Amika George

Amika George portrait photographed by Rachel Adams for the We are Bess exhibition at Hardwick Hall

"Like Bess I have been petitioning parliament. Although it has been difficult, I strongly believe that young people should get involved in political activism in order to raise awareness of the injustices that must be eliminated. As Bess’ story illustrates, anyone can start a campaign and elicit change, regardless of their age or gender. As a teenager growing up in a society which is still getting used to the existence of powerful women, I am Bess."

"As a teenager growing up in a society which is still getting used to the existence of powerful women, I am Bess." Amika George
Amika George portrait photographed by Rachel Adams for the We are Bess exhibition at Hardwick Hall
"As a teenager growing up in a society which is still getting used to the existence of powerful women, I am Bess." Amika George

Amika George is an 18-year old student from London. She started the #FreePeriods campaign, which calls on the government to give free menstrual products to children from low-income families.Following the #FreePeriods protest outside Downing Street last December, attended by over 2,000 young people, the government gave £1.5 million to address period poverty. Her petition now has 180,000 signatures.She has been featured in a number of national and international publications, and, while studying for her A-levels, continues to raise awareness of period poverty in the UK and globally. 

Defying the odds

Bess of Hardwick wrote letters of petition to important political figures, seeking redress of her grievances. She cultivated a network of powerful friends and was not afraid to call on them for assistance.

One is example being in 1558 as a new widow with enormous debts to the state, Bess wrote to Sir John Thynne, a leading parliamentarian, urging him to come to London to stop Parliament passing a bill that would have allowed her lands to be seized to pay her debt. To lobby against Parliament in this way was a bold and defiant step, and it is just one example of where Bess went against societal conventions about what women should behave in order to protect herself and her children from financial ruin.

Portraits for We are Bess hang with the historic portraits in the Long Gallery at Hardwick

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See which other women have found a parallel with Bess's story