During the last talk of the day we heard from Janvi Patel, advocate for change in the legal profession and board member of the Free Periods not-for-profit campaign group.
Janvi told her inspirational personal story about how she has been driven to make positive change to girls and women’s lives. After being caught out nearly every month for forgetting her menstrual products whilst at work, Janvi started thinking and researching about how the law could be used to set a piece of legislation in place that gives young people access to free menstrual products.
After connecting with Amika George (British student, activist and founder of Free Periods) and the Red Box Project UK, in 2019 Janvi saw the two charities club together to launch a legal campaign against the government, calling on them to provide free period products to young people in education.
The campaign made waves in the media and they secured funding to explore the legal challenge further. Then, in March 2019, an announcement was made from Parliament that they were to provide free sanitary products to young people in secondary schools and colleges in England.
But… primary schools were missing from the government’s scheme. Free Periods and the Red Box Project continued campaigning for primary schools to be included, and in April 2019, the decision was made to extend the campaign to primary girls… which meant they had reached their goal! The two groups then focused their time on seeing a nationwide scheme funded by the government, which launched in schools and colleges in January 2020.
Janvi spoke at length about how this huge campaign started from one small spark, or a series of small sparks, which then collected together to create a massive impact. She was sure that though they have in essence reached their ‘goal’ Free Periods still have a way to go, using the example of Scotland recently becoming the first nation to provide free period products for all.
When thinking about purpose, Janvi reflects on her journey and then looks to the future. She uses vision boards to visualise what she wants to achieve over the next five years, and then shares these thoughts and feelings to a soundboard of people she trusts. In finding purpose Janvi has bucket-loads of ambition, but admits that it has been a hard road to realise that she simply cannot fix everything.
The talk gave the overall message that no goal is too small. She said, “There’s a catalyst, and a champion, and a movement. With each catalyst you will find your champion, and you will find your movement too.”