Nadya Okamoto is on a mission.
The 21-year-old activist and social entrepreneur founded PERIOD (period.org) when she was only 16, a non-profit organization that fights to end period poverty and period stigma through service, education and advocacy. She went on to nab the 2017 L’Oreal Women of Worth Award, an honor given to women who are making a difference in their communities, and now she’s a L’Oreal Ambassador.
“I'm really excited to be joining the L’Oreal family as an ambassador this year,” Okamoto told InStyle at the annual InStyle and Warner Bros. Golden Globes after party Sunday night, which she attended on behalf of L’Oreal. The Harvard college junior went on to dish on her non-profit, saying that they're "currently focusing on distributing period products to people who need them, and taking down the tampon tax that still exists in 32 States.”
PERIOD’s mission is to serve “menstruators in need” by distributing free tampons, pads and menstrual cups, to change the way people think, talk, and learn about periods via educational workshops, and to fight for systemic change towards menstrual equity.
It’s a cause that hits close to home, considering Okamoto and her family were homeless when she was 15. She started the organization soon after that. “I got into my work because I genuinely cared about getting period products to people who needed them,” she said.
“And I think when we think about menstruation, we don't think about glam," she added, referencing the glitz of the evening. "This glam was not a part of my life. At all. It feels like an absolute dream to be here, and it's kind of crazy. I'm on my period right now,” she said with a laugh. “And I've been like, 'Oh my God, this is the most unglamourous thing to have on this day.' But to be able to be here and at a glamorous event representing the menstrual movement, which is so inherently thought of as gross and not dignified ... it makes everything right.”
“For me to be able to talk to you on this carpet and say like, 'OK, periods are natural and should be treated as a necessity' is amazing,” she continued. “And to have a brand like L'Oreal be able to talk about this so naturally, it has been absolutely incredible.”
To find out more about Okamoto’s PERIOD, which is now the largest youth-run NGO in women’s health, visit period.org.