Zeba Khan: A Proud Example for Young Girls

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Zeba Khan: Founder of PERIOD. At UBC

Zeba Khan is the Founder of International organization called PERIOD. At UBC. She has experience working in various non-profit organizations and leading community projects

She is studying the impact of trauma by combining two streams of science:  neuroscience and physiology. She has been involved in various community service projects.

Currently, Zeba Khan is working on pushing forth menstrual rights and the empowerment of youth through dialogue labs.

Here are some eye-catching parts from Zeba Khan the Founder of PERIOD. At UBC.



SUKONNA: Tell us about you?

Zeba Khan: My name is Zeba, I was born in Bangladesh and currently reside in Vancouver, British Columbia. I am currently in my second year studying Bachelor’s of Science at the University of British Columbia. I am studying the impact of trauma by combining two streams of science:  neuroscience and physiology. I am particularly interested in understanding the effect of trauma during developmental stages.

Since the last eight years, I have been involved in various community service projects. Currently, I am working on pushing forth menstrual rights and the empowerment of youth through dialogue labs.

SUKONNA: Tell us about your organization?

Zeba Khan: I have founded and organization called PERIOD. At UBC, which is a local branch of the global organization PERIOD Inc.

PERIOD. At UBC operates in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Our primary goals is to provide menstruation hygiene products to those who can’t afford it. Since its establishment last year, we have distributed 20000+ menstruation products for free to several homeless shelters.  We have built strong partnerships within our community and have been recognized through three different awards for our efforts.

I have also co-founded an organization called World Awareness Initiative Foundation (WAI). WAI offers free dialogue labs and workshops to youth who are interested in community work. Although most of our work is targeting Vancouver, WAI has also completed small projects in Bangladesh and Uganda.

SUKONNA: When did you start your journey and how was it?

Zeba Khan: PERIOD. At UBC was established in 2017, and World Awareness Initiative was founded in 2015.

SUKONNA: Who is the inspiration behind your decision to become an entrepreneur?

Zeba Khan: In 2013, I met a homeless, blind girl named Roksana. Over the next two years that followed, I worked tirelessly to make a positive impact in her life. My team and I raised money to build her a home and arranged a surgery for her eye. I was successful in making a difference in her life, but the impact that she had on mine reverberated in everything that I have achieved so far.

Being able to change one person’s life realize what it feels like to be able to make a difference. I wanted to make a larger impact, help hundreds of others like Roksana. I realized that the only way I could make a sustainable impact is if I could get others to share my passion and see the world through my lenses. I believe in the power of numbers, and I wanted billions of neurons in billions of people to fire in symphony towards solving social issues. I learnt that it starts with dialogue. Ideas are powerful and when shared through dialogue.it has the potential to bring people together despite their differences. Realizing that there was a lack of platform for sharing ideas, I found the solution in the form of a World Awareness Initiative (WAI).

Working with marginalized populations in the senior year of my high school, I learnt about the impact of menstrual taboo on a small community in Bangladesh. I learnt that in some parts of Bangladesh, getting your period meant missing school, sleeping on the floor and most surprisingly, not being able to take showers in communal pools. Later that year, I moved to Vancouver and realized that the impact of this stigma is not limited to developing countries; it’s a global problem. I reached out to several homeless shelters in Vancouver and found that pads and tampons are hardly ever donated, and there is an unaddressed need for menstruation products. Determined to find a solution, I landed on a video of Nadya Okamoto, the founder of PERIOD. online. I was inspired by her work with PERIOD. and knew that I had to get involved. I reached out to PERIOD. And initiated a local chapter of PERIOD. In Vancouver, where we currently distribute 1500 over menstruation hygiene packages to homeless shelters every month.

SUKONNA: What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?

Zeba Khan: Topics of menstruation is often surrounded by a lot of stigma and myths, and this often made it difficult to start a conversation around this topic. We put together a strong outreach team and focused on direct peer-to-peer communications to raise awareness about this issues. We set up booths around UBC campus and distributed free menstruation products to UBC students, which gave us the opportunity to talk to them about our work.

We have also faced some challenges with storing the menstruation products. We didn’t have access to a storage, and we couldn’t afford to rent one either. PERIOD.  At UBC has received a lot of support from its community partners, and one of our community partners allowed us to store our products at their storage. This coming year, PERIOD. At UBC will have its own storage and an office!

SUKONNA: What is your future plan?

Zeba Khan: Our organization, World Awareness Initiative Foundation will focus on its outreach initiatives next year. We are putting together a strategic plan that will allow us to increase our reach and ultimately the participants of the dialogue labs. We are also looking into increasing our partnerships with other community organizations.

As the Regional Director for PERIOD. Inc in Canada, I am working towards creating more chapter of PERIOD.  Across Canada and increase our impact in the northern region.

SUKONNA: Can you tell us about any habits you have/things you do, which set up success every day?

Zeba Khan: I try to wake up early every day and set aside a little bit of time for myself at the beginning of the day. This allows me to organize my thoughts, set goals and mentally prepare myself for the rest of the day. I believe that have a neatly organized ‘to-do’ list and setting small, tangible goals every day has helped me become successful in achieving those goals.

SUKONNA: What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?

Zeba Khan: I sincerely believe that with hard work, you can achieve anything.  My advice to other young entrepreneurs will be to continue working hard and to be persistent, keep pounding the pavement till you achieve your goals.

SUKONNA: Your favorite quote is…

Zeba Khan: ‘In order to achieve anything, you must be brave enough to fail’ – Kirk Douglas

SUKONNA:  Thanks a lot, Zeba Khan for sharing your story with our readers.

Zeba Khan:  Thank you for giving me the opportunity!

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