Portrait by Idara Otete
Who is Florence Igboayaka?
I am genuinely impressed by Florence Igboayaka, a social entrepreneur based in Aberdeen, Scotland who is making impact by addressing problems girls and women face. She is the author of The Period comic and founder of The Period Place UK. She holds an MBA from Leicester University.
She is currently researching one of the UN millennium sustainability development goals of addressing poverty through social entrepreneurs for her PhD at Robert Gordon Aberdeen University in Scotland. Her programmes at the Period Place are based on facts from government surveys and medical specialists.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started she decided to offer The Period Comic 1 for free on Amazon Kindle and received an average of 15,000 page reads monthly proving the great need for engaging and accessible period education. Parts of the proceeds of the sales of her books help fund educational programmes of the Period Place.
What is the mission of your social enterprise?
The Period Place is a safe place for all things period. We educate young girls to reduce the stigma around menstruation.
We create awareness by educating parents, carers of children, schools and girls’ clubs. According to research, lack of awareness brings out a lack of self-confidence. We advocate against period stigmatisation through illustrated books, educational materials, virtual workshops and soon period information clinics with medical students.
What inspired you to found The Period Place?
I created The Period Comic series, volumes 1 and 2 and a journal for girls aged 8 to 14. They focus on puberty, managing periods, and tackling period poverty. Most parents or caregivers find it an awkward topic to discuss. Girls love fun and adventures. Finding a contemporary way to communicate and keep the periods conversations engaging and exciting was paramount. My characters are girls from diverse backgrounds and cultures but with the same body changes and growth experiences. Puberty and periods know no boundaries in terms of culture, ethnicity or even country. These illustrated books also teach girls values such as being charitable, considerate of others, supportive of the community.
We serve young girls from deprived homes, minority ethnic groups, women and girl refugees and girls coming into puberty. School lessons are usually taught to girls in P6 classes or 10-year-olds. Some girls don’t get their period for another couple of years, making it difficult for them to remember the information clearly. There are also some girls whose periods start at a very young age as well, as young as 8 years old. This means neither school nor parents have alerted them about puberty yet and it can be a scary experience.
Portrait by T.I.O. photographer
If you had to name the values which guide you as a person, which would they be?
Integrity, excellence and compassion. My legacy will be measured by how many lives I was able to impact.
What did you learn doing volunteer work that helps you in your job?
I am a part-time project manager with the African Council, a charity based in Aberdeen. As is with most charities, funding is often limited, I have learnt to be creative in managing resources, with timelines and delivery. For over 3 years, I have organised events for the charity that were attended by representatives from all over Scotland, 250 Africans at each event as well as representatives of the Scottish government. Businesses run by Africans were showcased and they were grateful for the exposure.
We would love to be introduced to girls’ clubs and societies as well as organisations supporting women. We would appreciate it if influencers working with girls and women could help us spread the word about what we do. We are actively looking for student doctors to run our upcoming clinics. It would be great if companies with Corporate Social responsibility programmes would sponsor us. We are looking for volunteers that could help us with some administrative tasks.
I receive so much positive feedback about my books. This is very heart-warming. During the lockdown, the mother of a 10-year-old girl in Milton Keynes who had read the Period Comic reached out to me.
Her daughter was asked to write about her favourite author. She chose to write about me as she loved the characters in my books. She was surprised that she couldn’t find much about me by doing a Google search. Her mother sent me her write up and I was really touched. She became our ambassador as she took the book to show it to her friends at school.
Photo of the Period Comics series by Epoch Comics
Any exciting news about your organisation?
We are developing some workshops for single dads, carers and grand-parents to be given by Spring 2021. Our information clinics with student doctors will offer a safe space to ask questions about periods and puberty. People will be able to join us online from all over the world. We are planning a period poverty conference end of May 2021.
The Period Products (Free Provision) Scotland Act 2021 (“the Act”) places duties on Local Authorities and education providers to make period products obtainable free of charge for anyone who needs them. The Act will come fully into force by January 2023 at the latest and will ensure that everyone in Scotland who needs them can have reasonably convenient access to period products, free of charge, as and when they are required. In advance of this, free products continue to be available through Local Authorities’ voluntary provision and through the Period Products in Schools (Scotland) Regulations 2020. Here is an app to find the closest place that carries them if you need them.
This interview was conducted by Lucie Cunningham from Tell Them Well Communications in February 2021. Lucie is a freelance editor, copywriter and translator with over 10 years of community project management. She has lived in France, England, The USA, the Netherlands and is currently based in Scotland.