Love, Period. wins Rep. Marie Newman’s 2021 Congressional App Challenge in Illinois’s Third District

Rep. Marie Newman has named Sajal Shukla from Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy as the winner of the 2021 Congressional App Challenge in Illinois’s Third District.


When asked what inspired the creation of Love, Period., the student said, “As a young girl raised by immigrant parents, menstruation was never discussed in my household. As a result, I experienced incredible amounts of fear, isolation, and shame when it came to my period. In addition, the information I was provided with at school surrounding the topic encouraged me and my classmates to be ashamed of this natural bodily process. By professionals in menstrual education, I was taught never to mention periods around men and to hide my pads so others couldn’t see them. Thus, it’s no surprise that the first time I ever saw someone discussing periods to an audience publicly when I was fourteen years old watching Period. End of Sentence. win Best Documentary Short at the Oscars, I was astonished. Seeing women positively discuss periods in a way that was empowering to females changed my perspectives entirely. As I began to look into period stigma and poverty further and get involved with groups that were working to fight it, my eyes slowly began to open to the ways in which I had been wrongly taught by society to conceal my period and the ways in which menstruators globally are not able to obtain period products because they are considered a privilege and not a necessity due to internalized misogyny. After personally struggling with so many issues due to period stigma despite being in an advantaged situation, this issue is extremely personal to me. I believe that taking steps to open up conversation surrounding menstruation and providing people with resources to learn more about and fight period poverty in my local community is the first step I can take toward eliminating period stigma and poverty, which is why I decided to create this app.”

The 2021 Congressional App Challenge yielded 2,101 fully functioning apps. After eighteen months of disruptions to educational cadences for students everywhere, the Congressional App Challenge came roaring back with 7,174 students registering for this year’s competition. All told, 340 Members of Congress hosted Congressional App Challenges in their districts across 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington, D.C.

The Congressional App Challenge is an official initiative of the U.S. House of Representatives, where Members of Congress host contests in their districts for middle school and high school students, encouraging them to learn to code and inspiring them to pursue careers in computer science. Each participating Member of Congress selects a winning app from their district, and each winning team is invited to showcase their winning app to Congress during our annual #HouseOfCode festival. The program is a public-private partnership made possible through funding from Omidyar Network, AWS, theCoderSchool, Facebook, Replit, Accenture, and others.

The 2022 Congressional App Challenge will launch in June of 2022, and eligible students can pre-register for the competition now.