Today, the 18-year-old attends Harvard University and successfully runs Camions of Care as a global operation. She even gave a TEDx Youth talk in January 2016. This month, Okamoto was also named a L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth Honoree for the beauty company’s 2016 Women of Worth celebration.
“We’re just so excited that a huge corporation like L’Oréal was taking notice of what really started with us meeting around the lunch table and planning in high school,” Okamoto said. “Now we can say we run a global operation with 40 non-profit partners, in 23 states, 13 countries and on 60 campus chapters at universities and high schools across the U.S.”
The Huffington Post spoke with Okamoto about Camions of Care, the importance of menstrual hygiene for all women and why we need to fight the stigma surrounding periods.
How does the shame and stigma surrounding periods impact women’s access to menstrual products?
What withholds women and girls from obtaining the actual menstrual products that they need is the lack of open conversation around it. It simply comes down to the fact that a lot of [women] don’t feel comfortable asking if these products are available.
A lot of non-profits won’t get certain products due to a lack of funds or lack of displayed need. That lack of displayed need is a really key part of why I’m doing this. Non-profits were thinking that menstrual products weren’t a need because people weren’t asking, while women were expressing to us that it was a great need. So, Camions of Care became the middle man between women and shelters. Now we can build awareness among non-profits, while also empowering women to feel more confident and speak up about their needs regarding menstrual hygiene.
Watch Okamoto’s L’Oréal Paris Women Of Worth video below.