Birthday Honours: Period Poverty campaigner Amika George becomes an MBE

Amika George, 21, has been made an MBE 

Amika George, 21, has been made an MBE - Credit: Amika George

A former Henrietta Barnett pupil is the youngest person to be made an MBE in this year's Birthday Honours list - and she's used the opportunity to speak out over the honour's connection to "the horrors of empire and Britain's colonial past". 

Amika George, 21, has recognised for her work as a campaigner to end period poverty - she first set up the organisation Free Periods when she was 17 and still at the Hampstead Garden Suburb School. 

Now a student at Cambridge, she said she was "really shocked", but added: "I'm so thrilled to be recognised in this way, and it's a huge honour that I never anticipated."

But she said the honour, which comes after politicians made period products freely available to schools, was more than just personal recognition. She said: "[It] is down to every single person who either joined Free Periods, who supported us, who protested with us, who donated, and who constantly badgered their MPs demanding change."

She said being the youngest person to get a gong this year was a reminder that young people can enact change. She said: "We no longer have to wait for people in Westminster to act on our behalf. I hope my generation realise the power we hold in our voices."

But Amika - who has written a book called Make It Happen which was endorsed by Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai - said she had had to think twice about whether to accept the honour or not, given the E in "MBE" stands for "Empire". 


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She said: "I decided to accept it partly because as a young person of colour, I wanted to speak up about how we need to shake off our collective national amnesia about our past, and acknowledge the reality of empire through honest and unfiltered education in schools.

"I knew so little about it, and I'm embarrassed to admit that it was only when I started my history degree at university that I learnt about our colonial past. I was an expert on Henry VIII's wives though!" 

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She's now back to university to celebrate the gong - and the end of her exams - with friends. 

To find out more about Free Periods, which Amika founded, visit www.freeperiods.org

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