Mission Menstruation was founded by an amazing duo, Emily Estrada and Ta’Sheena Williams, who have worked tirelessly to help menstruators out while in college. We thought it was about time to sit down with them and get to know a little bit more about who they are and why they do what they do.
Starting off with co-founder and treasurer, Emily Estrada. Emily is a current senior at Michigan State University (MSU), who is finishing a bachelor’s degree with a double major in Civil Engineering and Women’s and Gender Studies. Originally from Saint Clair Shores, Michigan, Emily and her sister were raised by a single mother, who owns Hippie Yoga, one of our partners! Emily says that she’s always loved science but has been most passionate about issues surrounding social equity, especially gender. This is most likely attributed to growing up around strong women who Emily says “Make me feel like I can do anything!”
Emily began her involvement at MSU during her sophomore year while working as a Resident Assistant in a dorm. While at training for this position, Emily mentions that she was given lots of great resources to share with her residents including flyers, buttons, chapsticks, hand sanitizers, condoms with lubricant, even how to get a free iclicker! What she didn’t see was a single resource that helped menstruators find products they may need due to period poverty or an emergency. After doing some research, Emily said that she found out that service did not exist at MSU. Students couldn’t even get free tampons from the Olin Health Center, the on-campus facility, before Mission Menstruation. And so for Emily, it came down to the fact that she was unwilling to work as an RA without trying to make that change and so, her journey took off from there.
Here’s a look at what Emily had to say…
Why do you work on MM?
I am a gender studies major and an RA, so I’ve really been given the tools to notice this type of inequity taking place and work to address it. For me, once an issue comes to light, I cannot unsee or ignore it. Everything about my RA position put this problem right back in the center of my mind. You’re taught to be inclusive, showing how much money they have to work with, are told to support your residents, but they’re failing to meet a need as basic as toilet paper! It’s exactly the type of nonsense I can’t look away from.
What’s your role and could you tell us a little bit about what you do on a weekly basis?
My role is always evolving and very broad. As a founder, I do whatever needs to be done to keep the organization growing. Primarily at the moment, I am working on recruitment. That includes new volunteers helping us grow the organization and new student advocates at institutions other than MSU. Additionally, I handle the logistics of our monthly yoga fundraiser, manage partnerships with Aunt Flow and Hippie Yoga, and monitor any earning or spending that the organization does.
What motivates you to move forward with this project?
How far I have come, the positive responses I have gotten and the impact we could one day have. I really started this effort with few expectations and never dreamt originally that it would evolve into its own organization. I’m motivated by the idea of MM being its own living, breathing non-profit and an effort so much bigger than ideas in my head.
Where do you see MM in 5 years?
In 5 years, I see MM becoming a recognizable name in the effort for menstrual equity, with many more folks as team members helping us grow the organization. I imagine MM having advocates at ten or more colleges around the country, definitely focusing on Michigan for our first few. I see MM being an increasingly attractive space for students around the country to become involved in advocacy work!
What are you most excited about?
- I’m excited about the idea of period equity steeping to the center of attention via MM in the most inclusive way possible; we want to consider menstruators of all genders every step of the way and help them feel included in menstrual equity like never before. I hope that we can shed a light on the inequities faced by those who menstruate and why those inequities exist in the first place. I am excited about the idea of shattering norms and freeing the world of menstrual stigma!!
There has been a recent push in Europe to provide free period products, what do you think about that?
It is incredibly exciting to see entire regions taking action against period poverty in major and recognizable ways! Simply acknowledging this as an issue is an important step to fighting stigma around the world. It inspires me to keep going no matter how slow the progress can feel at times. I think we’re observing the classic way of social progress that we have observed many other times; Europe is the first to introduce a new, more progressive way of life and the U.S. will eventually follow.
Who inspires you?
My mom and my sister are my biggest inspirations. They made me who I am today and I will always want to be better for them! I am also incredibly inspired by some of the feminists that I have studied; poets like Maya Angelou and Audre Lorde in particular. Unapologetic warriors of activism with the most honest and vulnerable poems.
In one word, describe yourself
Emily is no doubt an amazing co-founder and the team at Mission Menstruation can definitely attest to her hard work and determination. After graduation, Emily will continue her role as co-founder and treasurer in Atlanta, GA while working full time as a civil engineer, helping enrich the lives of others through her work at her firm. If you are interested in working with this kick-a** founder, send us a message on Insta or fill out our contact form here!