Ms. Harnaaz Sandhu, the reigning Miss Universe, visited Ursuline on December 19, 2022, with an inspiring message for Ursuline students: “Believe in yourselves... love yourselves, and achieve your goals.”
This was the central theme of her powerful story about enacting global change which simultaneously shined a light on the issue of period poverty which is our 2022-23 global issue of concern. She encouraged students to “use your power of youth to help change the world.”
As the keynote speaker of our Global Symposium, Ms. Sandhu shared her commitment to educating others and ending the stigma associated with insufficient access to affordable menstrual hygiene products. Its significance is staggering as over 500 million people from around the world, and one in five people in the United States, miss school or work due to period poverty.
As a young girl growing up in her native India, Ms. Sandhu traveled with her mother, a gynecologist, and saw firsthand that some women and girls did not have equal access to period products and educational tools. Reflecting on the experience, she stated that “Gender inequality only intensifies when a girl does not have access to affordable menstrual hygiene products.”
The twenty-two-year-old actor, model, and advocate has made period poverty an important part of her platform as the reigning Miss Universe. She is using that platform to improve the lives of women and girls around the world. “Many young women don’t have opportunities to reach their full potential due to this issue” she stated. In 2022, Ms. Sandhu launched a coalition for Menstrual Equity in India. She also kicked off the Global Menstrual Equity Accelerator campaign at Global Citizen Festival 2022 in New York City.
Ms. Sandhu’s energetic and informative presentation captivated the audience of students, faculty, staff, administrators, and board members in the Tully Family Auditorium – Gymnasium. She is a living example of how meaningful change can get started by the actions of just one person. “Identify a problem,” she said, “but then move forward and figure out what to do about it.”
Ms. Sandhu encouraged students to look within themselves, identify a service opportunity that they deem important, educate themselves on the issue, and then act. “Service is the most prestigious gift you can give to others,” she added.
After the presentation, President Dr. Colleen Melnyk remarked, “It is clear that careful preparation has shaped Ms. Sandhu into a strong, confident young woman who is wired to elevate others. She is a beautiful person who uses her platform to inspire young girls around the world. I am very grateful she was able to be part of our 2022-23 Global Symposium.”
Ms. Sandhu also shared that her reign as Miss Universe has reinforced the importance of being humble, thankful, respectful and, most of all, kind. She hopes to inspire our students to believe in themselves and pay it forward. “Be pragmatic,” she said. “You have the best people around here at The Ursuline School. Don’t ever doubt yourselves!”
Every year, Ursuline undertakes a school-wide exploration of an important concern facing our world today. Classroom projects, research, prayers, and service initiatives throughout the year give students the opportunity to explore the global issue from various perspectives, to understand it better, and to make a difference in the world. We were honored to host Ms. Sandhu as our Global Symposium speaker on this important topic of period poverty.
Photos by Christopher Pope Photography.
- TUS Difference