WHEN SHE was picked because the youngest recipient of the Queen’s Birthday Honours this yr for pushing the UK authorities to supply free interval merchandise in faculties and faculties, Amika George discovered herself in a spot.
“It wasn’t a simple one for me with the Honours system’s affiliation to the (British) Empire and our colonial previous,” says the 21-year-old Historical past pupil at College of Cambridge whose mother and father hail from Kerala.
However then, she determined “it’s actually vital for me to indicate that younger individuals have energy in our voices, far more than we realise”.
“We’ve got typically been ignored in political areas, and the MBE exhibits that we’re slowly being recognised as actual changemakers who can affect authorities,” she says.
“That change doesn’t must be finished from inside the partitions of Westminster, or the White Home, or the Indian Parliament. Anybody can orchestrate change. I would really like younger individuals of color to see that we’re being recognised, and that if we’re keen to leap from a spot of security and stand up, we will create one thing higher,” she says.
George was picked for an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in schooling for her marketing campaign in opposition to interval poverty, #FreePeriods, which she began on the age of 17. She says it made her indignant that “there have been women within the UK who had been lacking college each month as a result of they had been too poor to afford interval merchandise”.
Following her efforts, which included beginning a petition and assembly with ministers, the UK authorities in 2020 funded academic institutes to supply free interval merchandise. Free Intervals is now a not-for-profit organisation, which continues to battle “in opposition to the taboo and disgrace surrounding menstruation”.
George says she is accepting the award “on behalf of my household and group who’ve silently needed to tolerate racism over many years, who felt like they by no means fitted in, who by no means felt British sufficient, who by no means felt seen”.
Whereas George and her brother had been born and introduced up within the UK, their father Kishore hails from Pathanamthitta and mom Nisha from Kozhencherry.
“We’re actually happy,” says Nisha. “We’ve got seen Amika work onerous, juggling between lecturers and her marketing campaign over the past 4 years. She was single-minded about attaining a aim, and we’re glad that she has been recognised this manner.”
As mother and father, Nisha says, they felt protecting of Amika “as a result of she simply put herself on the market, speaking about one thing that most individuals really feel uncomfortable with”.
An MBE is the third highest rating Order of the British Empire award. This yr, 1,129 individuals have been named for an Order of the British Empire award, of which 50 per cent are girls, and 15 per cent of an ethnic minority.
“The Birthday Honours Listing 2021 is probably the most ethnically numerous listing thus far,” a press launch by the UK authorities states.
Says George: “I couldn’t be prouder as we speak to be a younger British Indian.”