NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, March 24th, 2019

Documentary Review: Oscar winner “Period. End of Sentence.” is a must-see short film

At the 2019 Acad­e­my Awards last month, the award for Best Doc­u­men­tary Short Sub­ject went to “Peri­od. End of Sen­tence.” The twen­ty-six minute film takes place in the Haipur Dis­trict of India, about six­ty kilo­me­ters out­side of New Delhi.

Direct­ed by Ray­ka Zehtabchi and pro­duced by Melis­sa Berton, the film starts by high­light­ing how many peo­ple, both men and women, don’t real­ly under­stand men­stru­a­tion. They don’t know what it means or what caus­es it, and peo­ple are hes­i­tant to talk about it. Girls and women use what­ev­er spare cloth they can find to absorb their peri­ods, which is not always san­i­tary or safe.

“Men­stru­a­tion is the biggest taboo in my coun­try,” says Arunacha­lam Muru­ganan­tham. He invent­ed low-cost machin­ery to make san­i­tary nap­kins, com­mon­ly referred to as pads. His goal is for one hun­dred per­cent of women to be using pads in India. Cur­rent­ly, less than ten per­cent do. Many women haven’t heard of or seen pads before, and don’t know how to use them.

Some of the women in the com­mu­ni­ty learn how to make the pads, and work 9 AM to 5 PM every day to make and pack­age them.

Their next task is to sell them. Some of the women go to shops to try to get them sold there, but the shop­keep­ers are all men and don’t seem interested.

Some of the women go out meet­ing women in their homes or in small groups, show­ing them their pads com­pared to some of the name brand ones.

Official Poster for Period. End of Sentence.

Peri­od. End of Sen­tence.
Release Year: 2018
Direc­tor: Ray­ka Zehtabchi
Run­ning time: 26 min­utes
Watch trail­er

The pad the women make, which they have named “Fly,” is bulky but very absorbent. The oth­er pads look sleek­er and nice, but don’t absorb much and leak. The women from Fly tell the lis­ten­ing women that their pad may be ugly, but it works well, like an unat­trac­tive man who works hard and makes a good hus­band, elic­it­ing laugh­ter from the group of women.

The women are suc­cess­ful in sell­ing the pads in groups like this and door to door, though it takes time.

Many women don’t like to buy pads from the store, find­ing it embar­rass­ing with men run­ning the stores and many men hang­ing around at or near the stores.

Some of the mon­ey earned from the sales of the pad will go to buy­ing mate­ri­als for the next round of pro­duc­tion, with the rest going to the wom­en’s pay.

One woman who works mak­ing the pads says that her hus­band now respects her more, since she is work­ing and earn­ing money.

The woman who work at Fly have been empow­ered by the project, and some share their dreams for the future.

Says Muru­ganan­tham, the inven­tor of the machines: “The strongest cre­ation cre­at­ed by God in the world: not the lion, not ele­phant, not the tiger. The girl.”

The start-up funds to buy the machines and first round of sup­plies need­ed for man­u­fac­ture came from the Oak­wood School in Los Ange­les, and now The Pad Project con­tin­ues the work in addi­tion­al com­mu­ni­ties, with dona­tions through their web­site.

This film is short, humor­ous, edu­ca­tion­al, and inspi­ra­tional. Every­one should watch it when they have a few min­utes, and maybe make a con­tri­bu­tion to the project to get machines installed in more com­mu­ni­ties, giv­ing more women pay­ing jobs and even more access to afford­able, local­ly-made, fem­i­nine hygiene products.

“Peri­od. End of Sen­tence” is cur­rent­ly avail­able to screen on Net­flix.

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