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It’s easy to feel powerless. That can be disheartening, but actually it’s an opportunity to engage in activism. We’re living in an age now where people are able to channel their frustrations and make a change.
My story started when I read an article in 2017 about girls having to miss school because they couldn’t afford tampons. They were using alternatives – toilet paper, newspaper, socks – or missing a week of school every month. It horrified me. I started the Free Periods campaign, asking the government to provide products in schools.
After a few weeks, it was gaining traction. We organised a protest opposite Downing Street in December 2017 to try and get the government’s attention – more than 2,000 young people attended and we had seven or eight MPs and a baroness come and speak, which was incredible. I was 17 then and balancing my campaign with doing my A levels and university applications.
There’s strength in numbers. Activism can’t really happen [if you’re] on your own. If one person is shouting about something outside Westminster that’s not going to have much of an effect but when 2,000 people came together for our protest that’s what caught people’s attention. Living in London gave me the opportunity to go to Westminster for meetings and talks with MPs.
Activism has become a bit of a buzzword and that makes it daunting. There’s the concept of a full-time activist, who has to be vegan, care about every environmental issue and everything else. The truth is, activism can be a small section of your life. You can do something as small as recycling or going to a protest – as long as you’re doing something to help someone else.
Make It Happen: How to Be an Activist’ by Amika George is published by HQ on Sep 3.