Blog # 95…July, 2019
A period should end a sentence not an education…who thought we’d see the words Academy Award and menstruation together? And nobody was more surprised than Melissa Berton and Rayka Zehtabchi, producer and director of Period. End of Sentence, winner in the short documentary category at the Oscars in January.
|Getty images: Kevin Winter|
It all began with The Pad Project, started by a group of socially conscious girls at Oakwood High School in Los Angeles - part of Girls Learn international, dedicated to helping educate and lift the status of girls worldwide. Lack of access to sanitary pads causes girls in many countries to miss school during their periods, sometimes dropping out entirely. Menstruation is a source of shame and isolation and women resort to fashioning protection from unclean rags or leaves, with the danger of infection.
The film takes place in Haipur, a town outside Delhi, where a machine to manufacture pads from natural local materials has been installed and is being operated by local women...money for the machines was raised by the girls in LA with a series of bake sales and yogathons. Menstruation faces a particularly intense stigma in parts of India, where women are not only isolated but prohibited from entering holy places for fear of contamination.
In this quiet sexual revolution, women learn to operate the machines, making low cost, biodegradable pads. They’re also trained to be part of the sales force, giving them both financial support and a sense of independence and getting the pads to the girls and women who need them.
As one of the girls from Oakwood pointed out though, "It's’s not just in India that we need to break the taboo on menstruation and empowering women, we’ve got work to do here too".