Period: How to Challenge the Biggest Taboo in India

In the short span of 26 minutes, director Rayka Zehtabchi, was able to show how a easy to use, biodegradable pad machine can improve lives, create an income for women in rural india, and work to remove stigma surrounding periods. The 2019 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject was given to the movie Period. End the Sentence.

This amazing pad machine was created by Arunachalam Muruganantham.The machine helped empower the women in a rural communities in India by giving them access to pads and the ability to sell pads. Muruganantham is also known as “Pad Man,” and there is a Bollywood film based of his journey to create a low cost sanitary napkins. When he first started his journey, he saw his wife going to change a piece of cloth in a garden where all the women in the village go to change their clothes during their menstrual cycle. When he asked his wife what she was doing, she said it was none of his business. When he followed her to see what she was doing, he learned that she was using a small dirty rag in the place of a pad and that's how he got the idea to begin his journey to create an affordable pad machine.

As Muruganantham dove deeper into this larger societal issue, he realized that only 10% of the female population in India had access to pads. He was able to identify the root of the problem as a triple “A” issue: Affordability, Availability, and Awareness. He says, “The daughter never talks to the mother, the wife never talks to the husband. Friends don’t talk to each other. Menstruation is the biggest taboo in my country.” After making an affordable pad machine, Muruganantham made it an available resource in villages across India and sought out women to help him educate other women on why it was important to use a pad for their own person health.

This short film focuses on one woman aspiring to join the Delhi police. Her name is Sneha. She shares her stories of school and how it was easier for her to drop out than to go to school with her period. She discuss the social stigma that surround periods and how it affected her in pursuing her dreams.

Women in india struggle with more than just finishing their education while menstruating. In India, people are taught that a woman should not enter a temple during her menstruation because it is considered “dirty.” The star of this short film, Sneha, says that she does not agree with this logic. In Hindu religion, we have goddesses we pray to as well. Durga Devi, one of those godesses, is one of the most powerful and even has a tiger as a pet. Hindu religion believes that god created humans. So if god created women, why would she or he deny women the ability to pray once a week every month?

As we see this rural village of india develop throughout the film we see the importance of “the patriarchy taking the time to listen to issues related to women.” Women advocating for women is not enough; men most advocate for women as well. By the end of the film, Sneha has returned to school, her confidence has fully developed, and she says,“The world cannot go ahead without women. We are the creators of the universe.”