Nameeda from Bangladesh
EF Academy New York
When EF Academy New York student Nameeda learned of Foundation 21, an organization committed to fighting period poverty, she immediately became interested in helping out. By writing educational material, working on infographics and awareness posts for social media and encouraging people to help, Nameeda is contributing to making a real difference for the underprivileged communities of Bangladesh.
Tell us about foundation 21
Foundation 21 was slowly gaining momentum when I came across the organization on social media. As I went through their projects I was immediately humbled and interested by the charity work they had done throughout the country with the help of students just like me to make a real difference in people’s lives.
It's a non-profit, youth-led charity based organization committed to improving menstrual hygiene, fighting period poverty, raising awareness and breaking taboos. They have carried out many projects in rural and slum areas where period kits were donated that contained sanitary and menstrual hygiene products. Additionally, they have collaborated with other organizations in Bangladesh to promote trans rights, mental health, etc.
Why is period poverty an important issue?
Period poverty is a huge health crisis. There is a shortage of menstrual products and resources for women due to insufficient access and a lack of awareness in low income, underprivileged communities where discussion about menstruation is still considered very taboo. As such, failure to meet basic human needs poses a direct danger to physical and mental health, which in return creates more challenges like missing out on an education (due to shame) or leading to serious infections. As of 2021, over 89% of 78 million women in Bangladesh still use rags instead of the right sanitary products, leading to a series of health issues and holding them back from an otherwise bright future.
"All of us come from a position of privilege, so it’s part of our responsibility to give back to our community and contribute to battling issues around the world."
In what ways are you inspiring others, either in school or outside of school, to get involved in supporting period poverty?
We plan to organize a student led branch of Foundation 21 here at EF Academy, where we will work closely with the charity. We have already planned fundraisers, assemblies with experts and experienced speakers, awareness campaigns in school and on social media to educate people about the ongoing period crisis in Bangladesh. The contributions of students will go directly to the underprivileged through donations of kits or otherwise but the main goal would be to bring our community together to help those in need.
As a girl, menstruation is a very normal process. Yet, it is still very stigmatized, with millions of women without access to basic sanitary resources, so this particular issue feels very personal, especially, when we have the opportunity to help in so many ways. So, in my community, I fostered open conversations and encouraged my family and friends to donate to organizations like Foundation 21 that can help as many girls as possible.
Do you have a role model?
Some women are truly inspirational and Dr Zohra Begum Kazi who was widely regarded as the first Bengali Muslim physician is certainly one of them. Her activism and social work not only brought more women to hospitals, but also encouraged them to pursue medicine. Thus, her dedication and strength to fight and create opportunities for women at a time where they were constantly undermined is very motivating.
What advice do you have for students who want to make a difference in the world?
All of us come from a position of privilege, so it’s part of our responsibility to give back to our community and contribute to battling issues around the world. The first step would simply be to get started! There are always places where we can lend a helping hand and it can start small from just donating food to homeless shelters and signing petitions or even having difficult conversations with people we are surrounded by.
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