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India-Set Documentary About Menstruation, ‘Period. End Of Sentence.’ Grabs An Oscar At The 91st Academy Awards

The short film, ‘Period. End Of Sentence.’ backed by Indian producer Guneet Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment, is the story of women of UP’s Kathikera village who produce sanitary napkins in a community where the stigma associated with menstruation runs high


New Delhi: “A period should end a sentence, not a girl’s education,” said Ms. Melissa Berton while accepting the Oscar for ‘Period End Of Sentence’, a short documentary set in India, about the taboos surrounding menstruation at the 91st Academy Awards ceremony held in Los Angeles. The 26-minute film follows girls and women in Hapur district of Uttar Pradesh, fighting against the deeply rooted stigma of menstruation. The film also delves into the work of real life ‘Pad Man’ Arunachalam Muruganathan, who devised low cost sanitary pads for women in rural areas and he helped the women in Hapur get a sanitary napkin manufacturing unit in their village. Mr. Muruganathan also makes a short cameo in the movie.

The documentary is directed by the award-winning Iranian-American filmmaker Rayka Zehtabchi and was produced by the Indian Producer Guneet Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment, known for producing films like ‘Masaan’ and ‘The Lunchbox’.

Producer Guneet Monga (right) with Action India Founder Gouri Choudhury.

Ms. Zehtabchi said as she got up on the stage to accept the honour,

I can’t believe a film about menstruation just won an Oscar.

Ms. Monga thanked the Academy for the award and for recognising the efforts of the young girls from Oakwood school in Los Angeles to Kathikera in Uttar Pradesh. She said,

Periods are normal and in no way do they stop us from achieving anything. This has been more than 10 years of work of Action India run by Gauri Chaudhary on educating reproductive rights on the ground in many villages. Feminist Majority Movement and Girls Learn International have been pushing this cause in US. Every girl in India or anywhere around the world needs to know this and hear this loud and clear. Period is an end of a sentence but not a girl’s eduction.

Also Read: ‘Period. End Of Sentence.’ Oscar Nominated Documentary Shows Rural India’s Culture Surrounding Menstruation

The film came to into being as a part of The Pad Project, an organisation started by students at the Oakwood School in Los Angeles and their teacher, Melissa Berton.

“Started with a small dream in the English department room of @melissa_berton with her school girls of @oakwoodstories for empowering and educating other young girls across the world for better menstruation hygiene,” Ms. Monga posted on her Instagram account.

Ms. Zehtabchi and Ms. Berton accepted the award with these words,

I’m not crying because I’m on my period or anything.

In their speech, they also thanked Ms Monga for all that she has done to help empower women, Ms. Zehtabchi said,

Guneet Monga – know that you have been empowering women all over the world fight for menstrual equality.

Ms. Berton dedicated the award to her school, saying “the project was born because her students in LA and people in India wanted to make a human rights difference”. She said,

I share this award with the Feminist Majority Foundation, the entire team and cast. I share this with the teachers and students around the world – a period should end a sentence, not a girl’s education.

Also Read: “If Today We Don’t Think And Act About Poor Menstrual Hygiene, It Will Become As Big As Polio And Then It Will Be Too Late”, Says Delhi’s Pad-Warrior

Apart from winning the Academy Awards, the film has received accolades and awards at Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival and Cleveland International Film Festival among others.

The Oscar garnered many reactions from round the globe, with people congratulating the team for their efforts in bring problems related to menstruation in developing country like India to the center stage.

Union Minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi congratulated the team,

Amazing news coming in! #PeriodEndOfSentence, a film on menstruation shot in India, has won the OSCARS in the Documentary Short Subject category. Produced by Ms. @Guneetm, the film talks about how “a period should end a sentence, not a girl’s education”.

‘Period. End Of Sentence.’ was pitted against “Black Sheep”, “End Game”, “Lifeboat” and “A Night At The Garden” all competing for the Oscar in Documentary Short Subject Category.

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollutionclean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.

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