Rayka Zehtabchi, a 25-year-old graduate from the University of Southern California film school, became the first Iranian-American woman to win an Oscar. The director of this short documentary, “Period. End of Sentence.” addressed the struggle women around the globe face in gaining access to menstrual hygiene products.
Zehtabchi played a large role in attracting media attention to the issue; however, students at the Oakwood School in Los Angeles, California developed the pad project. It’s an initiative that raises money to supply pad-making machines to underdeveloped countries where the mention of periods is taboo.
Set in Hapur, an Indian village outside of New Delhi, the film captures the way that an $11,000 pad machine was able to transform the role of females in their town. Although the primary focus of the project was normalizing the discussion of periods, it also played a role in providing wages for women and deviating from the traditional patriarchal system within India.
The documentary offers a shift in perspective to show how difficult it is for women to obtain sanitary products and the effects it can have on their lives. It mentions how girls have resorted to using dirty rags, or even leaves to prevent staining, but the lack of cleanliness often leads to infection.
Some of the female villagers have had to miss a week of school while they were on their menstrual cycle and, after this occurred multiple times, they began to fall behind in their studies. Another factor that restricts the ability of females to get pads is that it’s not financially feasible. The purchase of a week’s supply of milk benefits an entire family, while the purchase of sanitary pads is only useful to the girl, even though they are the same cost—the pad project intends to make affordable sanitary products that do not cause a large burden on families.
The pad project’s mission is to spark a change in menstrual product accessibility since, “A period should end a sentence, not a girl’s education.”