Doing good.

Making a positive difference is at the heart of what we do.

14 March 2020

Meet Fredrika

For IWD 2020, we caught up with Foundation ambassador Fredrika on what inspired her passion project, Menstruation with Dignity.

The face of our International Women’s Day 2020 campaign, Fredrika Akander, uses her platform to make a positive impact on the world. It all started after a volunteering trip left her with some pretty big questions.

“After I graduated high school, I went straight to India and I worked in an orphanage for kids with HIV. It set me on a course for the next ten years in what I wanted to do. I started studying politics and I found myself drawn towards [issues of] inequality."

After studying International Development at university, Fredrika started researching the barriers young women are facing in access to education. What she discovered blew her mind, and became a catalyst for action.

“One of the biggest things that I found was that girls in a lot of areas struggle with their menstruation, and are missing school because of this. They need clean toilet facilities and access to pads. For us, we just take it completely for granted. We might think the bigger barriers are access to school books, or access to food, but the fact is that most girls, every single month get their period, and this shouldn’t keep them from being in school."

For many girls, missing one week of school every month because of their period causes them to fall behind in the school curriculum, significantly impacting their learning. Following this discovery, Fredrika started the Menstruation With Dignity project, raising funds to provide and distribute sanitary items to young girls in areas like Uganda that were particularly impacted.

Determined to make an even bigger impact, Fredrika started working with the Cotton On Foundation, who had already established programs throughout Uganda that gave communities access to medical facilities and education around sexual health. In July 2019, Fredrika was invited to travel to Uganda to meet some of the students these programs were helping.

“The students are so well spoken, they’re so smart, they have all these amazing ideas, and they’re go-getters. I learnt so much just listening.”

— Fredrika Akander, Content creator, Activist, Foundation ambassador.

For Fredrika, the trip was the best example of how women empowering women can create positive change. And it’s the women around her that she has to thank for her ongoing activism.

“I come from a family of really strong and stubborn women. I remember saying to mum when I got into social media, ‘I’ve got this degree in International Development and I don’t get to use it.’ And she said ‘Well, that’s your choice.’ And I always try to stick with that. It’s my choice. You’ve just gotta go get it. It’s about finding what you’re passionate about, and what you are going to change. I can do that, and that will be my piece of the puzzle.”