Meet the 21-year-old Indian-origin girl on the Queen's MBE list

New Delhi - Amika George is the youngest recipient of the British honour this year.

Photo: The Indian Express
Photo: The Indian Express

By Web Report

Published: Mon 14 Jun 2021, 10:19 AM

Last updated: Mon 14 Jun 2021, 10:32 AM

Amika George, 21, born to Indian-origin parents in the UK, is in line to receive one of the country highest civilian honours.

According to The Indian Express, George — who was raised in the UK — was picked to receive an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire), the third highest award on the list of the Queen’s Birthday Honours. She will be this year’s youngest recipient for her campaign #FreePeriods which pushed the UK government to provide free period products in schools and colleges.

“It wasn’t an easy one for me with the Honours system’s association to the (British) Empire and our colonial past,” says the 21-year-old history student at the University of Cambridge.

However, she says she reconciled with the conflict after deciding that it was important to her “to show that young people have power in our voices, much more than we realise”.

“We have often been overlooked in political spaces, and the MBE shows that we are slowly being recognised as real change makers who can influence government,” she says. “That change doesn’t have to be done from within the walls of Westminster, or the White House, or the Indian Parliament. Anyone can orchestrate change.”

George began her campaign against period poverty at the tender age of 17, frustrated by the fact that “there were girls in the UK who were missing school every month because they were too poor to afford period products.”

Her campaign involved starting a petition and meeting with several ministers over the issue. Free Periods is now a non-profit organisation that continues to work to eliminate “the taboo and shame surrounding menstruation.”

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George’s parents are both originally from the south Indian state of Kerala. Her father Kishore hails from Pathanamthitta, while her mother Nisha is from Kozhencherry.

“We’re really pleased,” says Nisha. “We have seen Amika work hard, juggling between academics and her campaign over the last four years. She was single-minded about achieving a goal, and we’re happy that she has been recognised this way.”

They also said they felt protective of her as “she just put herself out there, talking about something that most people feel uncomfortable with.”

Of the 1,129 recipients of an award this year, 567 are women. Only 15 per cent of them hail from ethnic minorities.

“I couldn’t be prouder today to be a young British Indian,” says George.

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