How EF Academy students break the period taboo
Dismantling myths, creating awareness and normalizing taboos is nothing new to EF Academy New York students, who have carried out several projects throughout the year to support causes like the Ukraine crisis, worldwide fund for nature (WWF) and period poverty in Bangladesh. Here, members and clubs come together to dedicate their time and energy to come up with ways to highlight great ideas and spread the word in their communities. As such, the profile of a global citizen is a quality that students carry with them in everything they do inside and outside the classroom.
One of the best examples is the Foundation 21 and EF Academy collaboration led by a team of three volunteers (Nameeda from Bangladesh, Vittoria from Italy, and Lucio from Italy) who come from different cultures and values to share a united goal. To give some context, Foundation 21 is a non-profit, youth-led charity that aims to improve menstrual hygiene, fight period poverty, and break taboos in Bangladesh. They have carried out many projects in rural and slum areas where period kits were donated that contained sanitary hygiene products. Additionally, they have collaborated with other organizations in Bangladesh to promote trans rights, mental health, etc. Thus, throughout the school year many fundraisers, information sessions, period awareness videos and posters have been carried out to contribute to F21’s vision of supporting communities in Bangladesh and spreading awareness about period poverty everywhere.
For the longest time, I have been involved with Foundation 21 in various roles ranging from content writer, graphic designer and now, project coordinator. Hence, when I moved to EF Academy, I wanted to continue working with this organization and bring more people in who were also passionate about the same things as me, and to my pleasure I was able to find such bright individuals within the community. Together, with strong teamwork, we pulled off fundraisers that accumulated over $700 in total donations that went towards buying menstrual cups and menstrual discs, as well as models of uteri that will be used for educating girls about their anatomy. As mentioned, we also created a video that was shown in advisories and Theory of Knowledge classes to reach hundreds of students, but more excitingly, we also conducted EF Academy’s first ever menstruation information session!
Our series of period positive sessions called “Break the Taboo” held in collaboration with EF Academy’s nurses and other strong female figures around campus was a really fun project to complete. We educated over 400 students from around the world about periods – health facts, myths, stigmas, and periods beyond gender. So, of course, we discussed menstruation in detail and tackled some misinformation, but also shared our own personal experiences. There was also an anonymous question box set up in different locations which allowed people to put in their own questions or thoughts on period which facilitated more conversations during the sessions, which lasted about 45 minutes.
Menstruation, as a whole, needs to be normalized and discussed more thoroughly in schools everywhere, and for this reason, we started from our small community. We are excited to continue this relationship with Foundation 21 into next year and hope to be able to reach even more students, raise more funds and take our collective work to an even better level!