Our biggest hope is not only to get as many people involved as possible, but also to educate women to be empowered to create movement in the world.
The Documentary Period. End of Sentence.
We are thrilled that the documentary helped spark a conversation about menstrual equity, and the response to the Oscar win has been overwhelmingly positive. We’ve received expressions of solidarity and support from people sharing their own stories about triumphing over menstrual stigma and from people who want to get involved in menstrual advocacy. Additionally, we’ve had requests for us to help install pad machines in areas all over the world.
Overall, the attitudes have changed drastically with regard to the acceptance of menstruation as a topic and with the establishment and proper operation of the pad machine, including the sale and purchase of low cost pads in the village. There has been an increase in the number of women using pads in the village, specifically including adolescent girls and middle-aged women. There has also been an increase in awareness and acceptance among the men in the village about menstruation and other topics and discussions relevant to women’s sexual and reproductive health.
Girls Learn International, the high school club that inspired Oakwood students to start The Pad Project, connected our chapter to a grassroots NGO, Action India, located in Delhi, India. This activist group became our means of communication to the women and girls of the village of Kathikera, in the Hapur district of India. Many of the women in this village had missed school, dropped out entirely, or had already gotten pregnant at a young age. Action India became our direct liaison with the community; when they expressed a desire for a machine to participate in our documentary, we worked with them to install it in a way that would be feasible and sustainable for Kathikera.
What We Do
Though we hope to be able to direct donations toward specific portions of our advocacy work in the future, right now we are still in the process of building our organizational capacity and do not have the structures in place to do so. However, we are a nonprofit organization, so you can feel confident that 100% of your donation will be used to meet basic overhead costs, to finance new pad machine initiatives, to increase menstrual health awareness, and to continue our work to eradicate stigma surrounding menstruation in the U.S. and abroad.
How many pad machines have you installed and where are they located? Which regions are you looking to place pad machines next?
As of April 2020, The Pad Project has placed six pad machines in different regions in India and implemented a reusable cloth pad-making program in Sierra Leone. We are working to install a semi-automated pad machine in Afghanistan and to launch a reusable cloth pad-making program in Guatemala. In the greater Los Angeles area The Pad Project is combating period poverty by hosting menstrual hygiene donation drives. With your help, we hope to place machines in Kenya, Nepal, South Africa, and Uganda in 2020.
Different types of machines may be used for different communities, depending on their needs. In general, the pad machine can be manual, semi-automated, and automated.
The cost of each pad machine varies depending on the needs of the community. Most of the low cost pad machine manufacturers are based in India, so the overall cost to put a pad machine there does not include any transportation costs like shipping or air freight charges. For machines that need to be transported, the costs can vary depending on specific port of entry fees. Broadly speaking, the pad machine costs can be split into 3 categories: the pad machine, the raw materials, and training and operations. This cost does not include the location where the machine is installed or the everyday running cost of electricity and wages paid to workers operating the machine. With that being said, the estimated cost for each type of pad machine is shown below.
Reusable Cloth Program:
- Cost- $5,000 USD
- Employs 5 to 6 workers
- Serves a community of 250 girls/women
- Manual Pad Machines: 260,000 pads produced per year. Serving a community of 400 women for 1 year timeline. All costs are in USD.
- Cost of Pad Machine: $5,500
- Cost of 1 year Raw Materials: $11,000
- Cost of Training and Operations: $2,000
- Grand Total: $18,500 (travel costs, taxes, etc. not included)
2. Semi – Automated Pad Machines: Estimated to produce 50,000 pads per month
- Cost of Pad Machine: $13,000
- Cost of Raw Materials for 6 months: $9,000
- Cost of Training and Operations: $2,000
- Grand Total: $24,000 (travel costs, taxes, etc. not included)
3. Automated Pad Machines: Estimated to produce 80,000 to 100,000 pads per month
- Cost of Pad Machine: $25,000
- Cost of Raw Materials for 6 months: $10,000
- Cost of Training and Operations: $3,000
- Grand Total: $38,000 (travel costs, taxes, etc. not included)
The number of employees varies between the manual, semi-automated, and automated pad machines. Manual pad machines employ 5 workers and 1 supervisor. Semi-automated pad machines employ 9 workers and 1 supervisor. Additional staff can be brought on to help market, sell, and distribute the pads when needed.
The low cost pad machines use the following raw materials.
- Top Sheet
- Back Sheet
- Super Absorbent Polymer (SAP)
- Airlaid Paper
- Transfer Adhesive Tape (TAT)
The top sheet and the back sheet could be made with rolled-up sheets or by using a pulverizer machine to make wood pulp.
A 2-day seminar on menstrual hygiene and women’s sexual and reproductive health serving a group of 40 to 50 adolescent girls and women in India would cost between $1500 and $3000 depending upon the following:
- The location of the seminar. Is it in a city, peri-urban, or rural location? Is it in a seminar hall, an open location, or a dwelling?
- Travel and lodging cost of trainers
- Cost of stay and food/refreshments
- Cost of stationary and other accessories
- Cost of free pad samples for distribution among participants
How to Get Involved
There are many ways to get involved with the Pad Project. In fact, we have a “take action” section of the website just for that purpose! Screen the film in your community! Period. End of Sentence. is available on Netflix, and our screening guidelines can be found here. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay connected with the day-to-day updates about our projects. Find out what the laws are with regards to access and taxation of feminine hygiene products in your state. Advocate for changes in the law through writing and signing petitions, writing to lawmakers, attending rallies, and educating your community. However, if you are able to, the most impactful way you can get involved at this stage is to donate!
We would love to have as many hands on deck to help us with our project as possible. However, we are still a growing organization and don’t currently have the capacity to launch a volunteer or internship program. However, we are working hard to develop more ways for our supporters to get involved…stay tuned!
If you want to make a difference in your own community, the best way to start is by calling your local shelters and asking if they need any menstrual products. If they say yes, host a pad drive! Gather pads from your community and bring them to organizations in need. There are so many ways to help out, but the first step is to look around you and see where there could be a need for menstrual products or education. You should also let your elected officials know how you feel about the pink tax, so we can drive real change!
Our goal is to move toward a model where we can forge sustainable partnerships with communities across the world who want their own pad manufacturing machines. Because we are committed to implementing projects in the most sustainable manner possible, please know that there may be a 5 to 6 month wait time before we can successfully install a machine, and keep in mind that pad machines may require electricity, running water, etc. in order to operate. If you are interested in pursuing a formal partnership with The Pad Project, email us at email@example.com.
More Information about Menstruation
While menstrual cups and reusable pads are great for many people, not all the areas that we work with have access to clean water — meaning that they might have trouble sterilizing the cups and washing the pads. In some communities, pads are also a more welcome and acceptable form of menstrual health product than cups or tampons. In some countries, the use of cups or tampons is often seen as a cultural taboo in and of itself. Using pads, however, works with the community’s existing cultural scripts and is often the most familiar, comfortable, and preferable option for women who want the machines. If they are comfortable and confident, they are more likely to advocate for themselves, excel in school, and start conversations about menstruation that may mitigate societal stigma. In addition, we prefer installing pad machines because they jumpstart a micro-economy for the women that we work with.
Is there a certain way most girls talk about their periods? Do they seem to talk about their period as a bad thing that they are embarrassed about? If they are, where do you think the stigmas come from?
We, as an organization, cannot make any verifiable claims about “most girls” in the world. However, our experiences working in the U.S. and with girls in India for Period. End of Sentence. and The Pad Project affirm that many girls view their periods as a source of shame and secrecy. Stigmatization can stem from cultural or religious systems that associate menstruation with being unclean or impure. As we show in the film, many of the young women we interacted with in Kathikera were embarrassed or shy to talk about their periods, or expressed that they had been taught to keep menstruation hidden. Many of the men and boys in the community were unaware of what menstruation was or how women managed it — some referred to it as a “disease.” In our organizational opinion (which is in line with existing literature on menstrual health perception and management globally), stigma likely results from a combination of disinformation or lack of awareness, cultural and religious beliefs, popular media representations that portray menstruation as dirty or shameful, and patriarchal social norms.
How do girls’ periods affect their education? Do girls who experience “bad periods” or who feel ashamed of their period miss school or fall short in their academics?
There is a large and growing body of research suggesting that lack of access to menstrual health products and education affects school attendance, concentration, and levels of comfort and confidence at school (see here, here,and here for just a few). While it was originally believed that menstruation often keeps girls out of school entirely, new research suggests that, although most girls do not drop out of school or miss school when they have their periods, lack of access to menstrual health products and clean, private, reliable water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure can result in significant embarrassment and discomfort that makes it harder for girls to concentrate in and enjoy school. See the linked research papers for more specific findings on the direct impact of menstruation on educational outcomes.
Again, we cannot speak for “most” schools. However, lack of clean, safe, and hygienic WASH facilities in schools is a pervasive problem, especially in low- and middle-income countries. UNICEF has some good resources on this. In many of the studies linked in the previous answer, you’ll see that girls cite this as a significant issue in their lives. Many schools do not have reliable plumbing and toilets, adequate means of disposal for used pads/tampons/cups, or private bathrooms where girls can feel safe managing their periods. Governments, NGOs like The Pad Project, and community stakeholders need to work together to direct sufficient resources to schools so that they can build up the WASH infrastructure that girls need to manage their periods safely and comfortably.