The documentary short, “Period. End of Sentence.”, which tells the story of women in a small village outside Delhi, India who are leading a quiet revolution against the deeply rooted stigma surrounding menstruation, won an Oscar for Best Documentary – Short Subject on Sunday night at the 91st Academy Awards.
The award was accepted by 25-year-old Iranian-American director Rayka Zehtabchi and Melissa Berton, a producer as well as a teacher at Oakwood School in Los Angeles. Berton and Zehtabchi were also joined on stage by the students from the Oakwood School. Berton, the students, and the Feminist Majority Foundation helped establish The Pad Project and create the film.
“I’m not crying because I’m on my period, or anything,” said Zehrabchi, the only woman director nominated in the category, during her acceptance speech. “I can’t believe a film about menstruation just won an Oscar!”
Berton continued stating, “This film began because high school students here and our brave partners at Action India wanted to make a difference – a human rights difference. 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.”
The film follows women who, for generations, didn’t have access to pads, which led to health problems and girls missing school or dropping out entirely. But when a sanitary pad machine is installed in the village, the women learn to manufacture and market their own pads, empowering women in the entire community. The funds for that first pad machine were raised by the Oakwood High School chapter of the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Girls Learn International (GLI) program.
“We’re thrilled to have been a part of this incredible project and so proud of our Girls Learn International program,” said Katherine Spillar, executive director of the Feminist Majority Foundation.
For over 15 years, GLI has been educating and energizing students in the global movement for girls’ access to education. In this particular case, GLI connected students at the Oakwood School in Los Angeles with feminist activists in India and helped launch the menstrual equity non-profit, The Pad Project. The inspiring student activists are now working on installing pad machines in even more villages.
You can watch “Period. End of Sentence.” on Netflix!
Media Resources: Ms. Magazine 2/12/19; The Hollywood Reporter 2/24/19