At Cora, we talk about periods constantly, but it’s not every day we see the conversation around destigmatizing periods go quite as mainstream as it did last night. Sunday was the 91st Academy Awards ceremony, and the winner of Best Short Documentary was Period. End of Sentence, a film set in rural India which illustrates the implications of the stigma surrounding periods longheld in many communities around the world.
The film, created by The Pad Project, follows a group of girls and women in Kathikera village, about 70 miles outside of New Delhi. As the film producers ask them questions about periods, many of the girls are too embarrassed to talk, while the women explain how their patriarchal society has created an environment in which it is taboo to discuss periods. Indeed, when asked if they even know what a period is, a group of men look genuinely puzzled, and one replies that he thinks they’re asking about school periods—as in, I have gym during 5th period.
In the film, women in the community learn how to use a machine that makes pads. The machine’s creator, a man named Murugananthem, explains how “menstruation is the biggest taboo in [his] country,” and is the only male we see who shows even a basic understanding of (or willingness to discuss) menstruation.
The women have different reasons for wanting to learn how to use the machine—some have never had jobs before, one wants to fund her enrollment in the police academy—but we see them learn to make, and then sell, period pads.
The documentary is in turns frustrating and uplifting, but overall illustrates the necessity of better menstruation education for both girls and boys, the lasting harm that comes from period stigma, and the exciting progress for women in this community.
The Period. End of Sentence team accepting their Oscar, via Getty Images
Cora’s giving partner, Aakar Innovations, employs a similar social enterprise model where women can make a living producing and distributing pads, from which local menstruating women benefit.
There’s progress to be made all over the world as we normalize periods and empower women, but we couldn’t be happier with the light Period. End of Sentence shines on an issue so near and dear to our hearts and Cora’s mission.
As Murugananthem says in the film, “The strongest creature on earth is not the elephant, not the tiger, but the girl.” We couldn’t agree more.