Meet Charlotte Silverman
Originally Published: February 19, 2020
Revised: April 3, 2020
Charlotte Silverman is a 19-year-old student at Brown University and co-founder of a nonprofit organization called The Pad Project. The group, whose motto is “a period should end a sentence, not a girl’s education,” works to increase global access to affordable, clean menstrual products. Access to menstrual products helps girls stay in school, which is The Pad Project’s goal.
In order to spark a conversation about this, Charlotte and The Pad Project created a film, Period. End of Sentence., which won a 2019 Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject). It features a pad-making machine invented by a man in rural India that makes affordable, biodegradable pads from locally sourced materials. The film tells the story of a group of women in a small town in India who received one of these machines—purchased via fund raising by The Pad Project—to produce pads to both use and sell. Not only did this raise awareness and help eliminate taboos around menstruation, but it also provided a steady source of income for the women operating the machines. After the documentary was released, The Pad Project received requests for pad machines in close to 100 countries.
“We knew the award would mean reaching a much larger global audience, so it was a powerful and emotional feeling to know that people around the world would see and feel a connection to this story and maybe join in on menstrual equality activism,” says Charlotte when asked what it was like to win an Oscar.
The Pad Project isn’t the only way that Charlotte is making a difference. She’s also an advocate for consent and sexual violence prevention. She created and facilitated programs about sexual consent at her high school. As a college student, she now works as a Sexual Assault Peer Educator (SAPE) facilitating workshops on sexual violence prevention. She is also a Sexual Health Advocacy Group (SHAG) educator, where she “works to create accessible, inclusive sexual health education on campus.” These issues are often ignored due to stigma, misinformation and lack of awareness, but Charlotte doesn’t let that stop her from helping those in need. This is why she is a perfect candidate for Faces of Change!
“I’m passionate about vulnerable storytelling. I’m interested in prison reform; affordable housing; accessible, comprehensive sex education and lots more. And I think in all of these, I find a lot of value in listening to people’s stories and helping provide a platform to share; it’s an important part of starting conversations that may be taboo or difficult or uncomfortable.”
“(I’m inspired by) so many people! I love The Pad Project mainly because of the people I get to work with. Melissa Berton, my tenth grade English teacher, continues to inspire and motivate me and my work every day. And Ajeya Deep, my friend and Pad Project co-worker in Delhi, is constantly inspiring and changing the way I think about gender activism and women’s empowerment.”
“I was told at least ten times in middle school that I had ‘lost my virginity’ once I used a tampon.”
“Laughing, strawberries, earrings, drawing, the beach, Rhode Island, colorful jumpsuits, Missy Elliott, wonderful people, dancing!”
“Roller coasters, PMS (emotional roller coaster?), singing ‘Happy Birthday,’ being tired!”
Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr?
“Facebook. I kind of rely on it for finding events and concerts and all that jazz.”
Show Her the Money
“If I had $1 million to change sex ed, I would try to come up with a platform for peer educators to connect with a trained sexual educator and create individualized programs for their schools or communities. So the goal would be transferring the power and messaging of school sex ed programs from the districts and administrators into the hands of students who know the needs of the student body. These changes would include in-depth education on sexual consent and violence prevention, sexual identity and inclusive language and building communities and relationships of care and communication.”
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