Press Release 27/05/2022 Winners of the first ever Empower Period Award
To celebrate Menstrual Health Day (28th May) Irise International launched the Empower Period Awards 2022.
The Awards celebrate young feminist leaders, under the age of 25, in the UK and East Africa working to end period poverty and shame in their community, country or career.
We are delighted to announce the first ever winners of this new award below:
The judges wanted to recognise initiatives that pursued the principles of justice as they understood it namely:
- Equality- ensuring people are not held back by their periods,
- Fairness- ensuring impartial treatment of all people and
- Access to resources- ensuring that resources were distributed and offered on the basis of need.
They were also inspired by young people using innovative and creative approaches to increase their impact and power.
- Hope Wambui Ochieng – Winner
Hope is an 11-year-old period poet living in the Kibera slums in Kenya. During the pandemic she raised her voice to create awareness about girls experiencing period poverty in her community. She was nominated by 44 different members of her community who described how she had mobilised local support for girls and helped them to avoid transactional sex in exchange for pads and other basic necessities.
- Chausiku Foundation – Runner Up
Chausiku is a project set-up by 5 young innovators in Tanzania. They created and installed period pad vending machines in schools in Dar Es Salaam so girls could easily access products and stay in class.
- Laura Nyiha, Pandemic Periods – Runner Up
Laura Nyiha is the Kenya correspondent for Pandemic Periods, working as part of a team of volunteer activists from 21 countries to collect and share stories of girls experiencing period poverty during the pandemic. She was recently part of a government committee tasked with reviewing the Kenya Reproductive Health Policy 2030 and made recommendations that led to further work on making the bill more inclusive. As Vice President of Federation of African Medical Students’ Associations (FAMSA) she has also called on all medical student in Africa to carry out reproductive health awareness campaigns in their communities.
The judges wanted to recognise two young people and decided the award would be shared between them in recognition of the amazing work that they do.
- Ceri Flook – Mindful Cycles.
Mindful Cycle is a passion project run by Ceri Flook, offering menstrual cycle awareness education that caters to the LGBTQIA+ community. The current landscape of sexual and reproductive health centers cis-gendered and heterosexual women. There are many people who bleed who do not fit into these categories and have a different experience of their menstrual cycle. Yet, these people do not often have the representation nor resources that are specific to their queer experience. Ceri is filling that gap by giving in-person presentations at queer events and making zines that are freely available at queer-friendly cafes.
The panel were particularly impressed with the fact that this nominee was championing Irise’s values of inclusivity by focusing on the LGBTQI+ community whose needs are often neglected in mainstream narratives on period poverty and stigma. The panel were also impressed with their use of creativity as a means of advocacy and felt that receipt of the Empower Period Award would help them realise their ambitions.
- Tilly Fenton – Love your Period Campaign.
Tilly co-founded the Love Your Period Campaign with her sister Molly and takes a huge responsibility in providing period dignity for other people her age. She helps schools across Wales and the wider UK make proper use of the free products available to school pupils and make sure young people can get these products with ease, calling out schools and councils for neglecting young peoples needs on the matter and making sure pupils like herself sitting exams now have access to the products they need to succeed.
The panel were impressed by Love your Period’s combined focus on advocacy for long-term policy change regarding period product provision in Welsh schools, their effective and inclusive messaging on social media which has garnered a significant following and has persisted despite backlash, and how embedded the founders are in their local community.
The judges also wanted to give a special mention to the following initiatives that also really inspired them:
Power Over Periods, three A-level students from Sheffield, for championing creative social media advocacy.
Aaron Raeder a young man who has been advocating for period equality since he was eight, with charity Binti International. The judges wanted to recognise his unique position and the potential his work has to inspire other young men to join the period equality conversation.
For more information or queries about interviews with our winners please email [email protected]
Menstrual Health Day
Menstrual Health or Hygiene Day is a global day of action that aims to make menstruation a normal fact of life by 2030.
Today, millions of people around the world are stigmatised, excluded and discriminated against simply because they menstruate.
It’s not acceptable that because of a natural bodily function people continue to be prevented from getting an education, earning an income and fully and equally participating in everyday life.
Irise International is an award-winning international charity working to create a world where having a female body is not a disadvantage. We enable those experiencing disadvantage to come together and overcome the barriers they face- reshaping their communities and institutionalising change for all through collective power, learning and advocacy.
We’re committed to the global campaign to end period poverty and shame by 2030 and were named as one of the most effective organisations addressing this issue in the world in a report by Founder’s Pledge. Over the last decade we’ve directly supported over 100,000 young people and their communities, helped 287 organisations address this issue in their work and built a community of over 174 small organisations and grassroots groups across 7 countries working together to end period poverty and shame for all. In 2019 we received The Power Together Award from The Global Women Political Leaders forum in Reykjavik, in recognition of our contribution to building a global movement to end period poverty and shame.