Scrolling through the internet last summer, Mrittika came across a fellowship opportunity with Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) calling young people to the forefront of menstrual equity. She was instantly drawn into learning more. Then she zeroed in on a few details about the fellowship that popped up from the screen.
Could she cultivate meaningful collaborations with other college students? Absolutely! Could she engage across cultural and generational lines on issues of intimate and menstrual care? Yass! Could she help implement newly passed legislation? Hmmm, intriguing.
A human rights conspirator since the age of 10, Mrittika is no stranger to demanding change. Since youth, Mrittika has volunteered time, outreached to communities, gained skills, and shared knowledge. As a sophomore in college in New York, she continues to organize her peers and meet with policymakers.
Nevertheless, at 19 Mrittika hadn’t yet worked on implementing legislation and had to find out more.
Women’s Voices for the Earth successfully helped pass Bill A.164-A, which was signed into law in October 2019, making New York the first state in the nation to require makers of period products to disclose ingredients on the label.
Mrittika was surprised to learn that companies had to be mandated to do this and that for years people who menstruate have been kept in the dark about what is in their tampons, pads, menstrual cups and period underwear.
Growing up in a South Asian household, Mrittika knows firsthand the importance of destigmatizing menstruation. Taught to hide her pads or to feel embarrassed when she was on her period, Mrittika became determined to open up conversations about menstruation and about the products used to manage it. The work with the fellowship affords her an opportunity to continue countering the pervasive stigma surrounding menstruating bodies.
Mrittika applied for the fellowship position enthusiastically. However, with the prospect of navigating a notably monochromatic period movement, she had doubts. As a woman of color and a first-gen Bangladeshi American, Mrittika had already fought for her perspective to be heard in activist spaces.
Going through the interview and onboarding process was deeply reassuring, Mrittika found. The fellowship opportunity at WVE proved to be the environment she had hoped for to amplify the voices of her peers, her community, as well as her own. She was both relieved and eager to get started. The fellowship space was both affirming and empowering.
The Jul’21-May’22 fellowship is giving Mrittika the tools to dive into the public policy process and expand her understanding of the political landscape. Mrittika is going even further by lobbying her Women’s Studies college professors for a field study opportunity where classmates join Mrittika’s youth cohort in combing through local stores and bodegas looking for period products to check labels. The young activists are looking to see if brands are in compliance with the new ingredient disclosure law.
Every day, fellows like Mrittika and the larger WVE community are empowering people from all walks of life. Together we are holding menstrual product manufacturers to account. Because we all deserve to know what we are putting in the most intimate part of our bodies and no one should have to worry that their period products will cause harm to their health or future fertility.
Like you, we are tired of the ongoing everyday exposure from toxic chemicals on our bodies, our homes, and our environment. With your support, we are creating the kind of world where the health and safety of our communities is a priority, and ensuring that young advocates like Mrittika have the resources they need to advance the environmental health movement forward.
We are now asking you to invest in the power of youth-led activism. Please consider making a donation today to continue our momentum towards menstrual equity, and to sustain the development of our fellows and the future of environmental health.
On behalf of Mrittika and of women and gender expansive people everywhere, thank you for all you do to advance this effort!