Barriers to Education: Menstrual Health
2nd Place



2019 High School Winners

2019 Protecting Human Rights


By: Lucy Barretto

Bishop O'Dowd High School
Oakland, CA


Lucy Barretto is a sophomore at Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland, CA where she takes AP Human Geography, and it was in this class that the World of 7 Billion video contest was assigned. And though it wasn’t required for her to submit the video into the contest, Lucy wanted to because she liked the idea of “a platform where young people can have their voices heard and adults actually listen.” Through her studies, population growth has been a topic, but the process of making this film allowed Lucy to take the issue out of the textbook and “apply it to my own work and life.” She had learned about the connection between education and population, and decided to focus on barriers to education. Initially, she tried to address many of education’s obstacles but after considering gender discrepancies and why they exist, she honed in on girls’ access to menstrual products. “Many people don’t realize how many young girls struggle with getting these products, and it has a much larger impact that most could even imagine.”

For her solution, Lucy reasoned that funding from the UN Population Fund made sense because the issue of girls’ education is “so related to population – if more girls can’t access education, more don’t know about family planning and how to lead healthy lives.” It was then deciding how much of her script time to spend covering these solutions versus the problem that was a challenge for Lucy. She found herself “narrowing down evidence and the script and thinking about what could reasonably fit into the minute while best communication the issue.” As for advice for future video contest participants, Lucy recommends they don’t pick anything vague because having something specific to focus on, means you can make a stronger case for actionable change.

Lucy is on her school’s student council, is a music lover (she knows how to play the ukulele!), and enjoys drawing. She participates in parliamentary debate and loves that it challenges her to consider different topics and work with a partner to make their case. In fact, Lucy credits her debate coach with encouraging her to acknowledge and learn more about global issues, considering her coach a significant influence on her interest in social activism.