Meet Neharika Rao, a member of George Washington University (GW)’s student government, who has been at the forefront of the initiative to install a contraceptive pill vending machine on campus. Alongside her fellow student leader, Aiza Saeed, Neharika has been working tirelessly to bring this project to life. The vending machine was successfully installed in the University Student Center on January 24, 2023, marking a significant milestone for reproductive rights and accessibility on campus.
The Motivation Behind the Project
For Neharika and Aiza, the motivation to lead the Plan B Vending Machine project stemmed from the overturning of Roe v Wade. This pivotal decision challenged reproductive rights in the United States and served as a wake-up call for the need to create a supportive environment for students. Neharika and Aiza believed that integrating a wellness vending machine on GW’s campus would demonstrate the university’s commitment to meeting the diverse needs of its students. They recognized that reproductive rights are human rights, and providing access to emergency contraception was a crucial step in supporting students during challenging times.
The Impact of Roe v Wade’s Overturning
With Roe v Wade overturned, the impact on students and reproductive rights cannot be understated. Neharika views it as a war on human rights, which makes the need for support and understanding even more critical. By implementing measures like the contraceptive pill vending machine, students can feel reassured and cared for in the face of such challenges. Neharika emphasizes the importance of fostering a supportive environment that addresses the stigma surrounding contraception and reproductive rights.
Empowering Other Students
When asked about advice for other students looking to install emergency contraception vending machines on their campuses, Neharika encourages persistence and belief in the possibility of making a difference. She and Aiza initially doubted the project’s feasibility, but by working closely with the administration and gauging student interest, they were able to turn their vision into a reality. Neharika’s message to other students is clear: if you put your mind to it, it is possible to create meaningful change.
Supporting the Project
As the GWU Contraceptive Pill Vending Machine project moves forward, Neharika highlights the importance of having conversations with peers to challenge the stigma surrounding reproductive rights. Creating an inclusive and supportive environment for every student is essential to the project’s success. By showing solidarity and support, the community can ensure that access to emergency contraception and reproductive care is widely available and destigmatized.
To Neharika, being a feminist means advocating for others during difficult times. It involves standing up for one’s rights and demonstrating that anyone can be a feminist. Empowerment and inclusivity are at the core of her feminist beliefs, as she strives to make a positive impact in the lives of those around her.
Neharika Rao’s dedication to the GWU Contraceptive Pill Vending Machine project showcases her commitment to reproductive rights and inclusivity on campus. Alongside Aiza Saeed, she has taken proactive steps to address the challenges posed by the overturning of Roe v Wade. By creating accessible and supportive spaces for students, Neharika is leaving a lasting impact on her university community. As she continues her journey as a feminist and advocate for human rights, Neharika serves as an inspiring example for others to follow.