The Documentary Period. End of Sentence.
Our Academy Award-winning film sparked a global conversation–from students seeing it for the first time in class to individuals and families watching it on Netflix, we continue to hear from first time viewers about the impact and importance of our film. Our film has been viewed in over 190 countries. Period. End of Sentence. came to life and gave The Pad Project a historic opportunity to raise awareness of the inequities of menstrual health around the world. And though we were aware of this short film’s power even as we were making it, we could not have imagined how profoundly its message would resonate, or how many communities would be moved to put into practice the model of menstrual heath that the film presented. We continue to receive 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 Kathikhera, 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 Kathikhera.
What We Do
We are a nonprofit organization, so 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 menstrual stigma in the U.S. and abroad. In 2021, our expenses were as follows.
- Programs – 81%
- Fundraising – 13%
- Admin – 6%
Please see Our Financials to learn more.
Now you can donate towards specific portions of our advocacy work! Donate to our General Fund to help us partner with grassroots organizations and NGOs to place pad machines in communities around the world, implement reusable cloth pad-making programs, and run menstrual hygiene management workshops.
To learn more, visit our Donate page.
We support menstrual health programs that ensure access to products for all girls, women and people who menstruate.
To combat period poverty in the U.S., The Pad Project supports 4 grant-giving programs and 1 menstrual product distribution program. The Pad Project has partnered with 45+ nonprofits, schools, school districts, and individuals to help provide free menstrual products to those in need.
Through our international programs, we partner with grassroots organizations in South Asia, Africa and Latin America to set up programs and small businesses that provide menstrual products and reproductive health information to their communities. We have supported our partners in setting up and operating small-scale businesses that manufacture or procure products and sell them at subsidized prices. Through this approach, we are also able to support the local economy and generate employment for local women in manufacturing or selling products.
We believe in choice for women and hence, are product agnostic in our approach. We have supported programs that provide access to disposable pads, reusable pads and underwear and menstrual cups.
We at The Pad Project are grateful for our partners on the ground who help monitor and ensure the success of each program. Thanks to our donors’ contributions, we have supported
- 12 disposable pad-making enterprises across India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Kenya, which employ women to make and sell disposable pads
- 8 washable pad-making programs across Ghana, Guatemala, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, The Bahamas and Uganda and
- 2 menstrual cup distribution programs in Pakistan and Uganda where menstrual cups are offered with relevant education to girls and women.
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 costs associated with each program can be split into three categories:
- Setup costs which include costs of machinery, transportation, taxes and duties, training community women, regulatory approvals, brand development etc.
- Operating costs which include costs of raw material, utilities (water, electricity etc.), salaries, sales and distribution, promotion etc.
- Program costs which include costs of developing awareness materials, conducting awareness sessions, data collection to monitor impact, capacity building of the local team, advocacy with local Government authorities etc.
These costs depend on the type of product, machinery, geography, skill level of the partner organization, regulatory requirements in the region, and many other factors.
For example, a disposable pad-making machine in India will have lower setup and operating costs than one in Kenya as the machinery and raw materials are available locally in India and have to be imported to Kenya
For example, A disposable pad-making enterprise in Kenya or India has lower regulatory costs than one in Sri Lanka as sanitary pads are classified as medical devices and need much higher investment to pass Government checks
Some estimated costs for the programs are given below:
|Disposable pad enterprise (Manual)||Disposable pad enterprise (Semi-automatic)||Disposable pad enterprise (Automatic)||Washable pad program/ enterprise||Menstrual cup program|
|Costs for 1 year||$15-20,000||$25-35,000||$45-60,000||$7,500||$5-15,000|
|No. of women employed in production||5-6||5-6||5-6||4-5||–|
|Girls and women served||500-800 for 1 year||3000 for 1 year||8000 for 1 year||250 for 2-3 years||500 for 5 years|
Lasting change in knowledge and attitudes related to menstruation requires not one, but multiple points of connection. It also requires interactions not just with those who menstruate, but those who can enable transformation at the individual, familial and societal level e.g. parents, grandparents, in-laws, men – brothers and fathers, teachers, community leaders, local government stakeholders etc. We encourage our partners to incorporate a multi-level approach that reaches many of these people through multiple points. We are also developing a focused curriculum that will allow our partners to engage with girls and women in a targeted manner on the basics of menstruation, myths and taboos, menstrual disorders, hygiene management, and menstrual cycle and contraception.
It costs approximately $3,000 to reach 500 girls and women with awareness sessions and other stakeholders in their ecosystem. This cost varies across geographies and is an average based on the experience of different partners.
How to Get Involved
There are many ways to get involved with The Pad Project. In fact, we have a “take action” section of our 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.
Host a fundraiser in your community to support The Pad Project! To make it easier for you, we created a step-by-step fundraising guide, which you can find here.
Fight for menstrual equity in your community! Find out what the laws are with regards to access and taxation of menstrual 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.
If you are able to, one of the most impactful ways 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. We are working hard to develop more ways for our supporters to get involved. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to stay up-to-date on any upcoming opportunities!
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 tampon tax, so we can drive real change!
The Pad Project partners with local organizations and grassroots NGOs to install pad machines, implement reusable cloth pad-making programs, and run MHM workshops. We work with our partners to tailor each program to the specific menstrual health needs of each community, and it is our partners who implement these programs on the ground. Our goal is to move toward a model where we can forge sustainable partnerships with NGOs in 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 we are not taking on new partners at this time. If your organization is interested in pursuing a formal partnership with The Pad Project at some point in the future, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Pad Project Ambassador Program
The Pad Project’s Ambassador Program unites hundreds of volunteer activists around the world who are ready to break the stigma around menstruation and turn their passion for equity into action. The Ambassador Program fosters a way for new and life-long menstrual equity advocates to come together to learn about period poverty, develop leadership skills, and form new friendships.
Over 500 dedicated volunteers in over 42 countries have joined our Ambassador program to further the menstrual equity movement in tandem with other social justice causes. We have 25 Pad Project school clubs led by students promoting menstrual equity in their own educational institutions and communities.
The Ambassador Program is open to anyone 12 years or older! We encourage domestic and international applicants to apply, but you will need access to WiFi to participate in Zoom meetings.
2023-2024 Applications Open: June 15, 2023- Applications Close: July 1, 2023
Estimated Programs Dates: August 1, 2023-May 31, 2024
You can learn more about the Ambassador Program here! For further inquiries about the Ambassador Program, email email@example.com.
Ambassadors will have a mandatory virtual orientation and training session, as well as three mandatory virtual meetings throughout the year to discuss ongoing projects. Beyond these meetings, ambassadors will be able to meet with their advisors and fellow ambassadors as frequently as they want.
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 menstruators 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 menstruators” in the world. However, our experiences working in the U.S. and around the world for The Pad Project affirm that many menstruators 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 Period. End of Sentence., many of the young women we interacted with in Kathikhera 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 menstruators’ periods affect their education? Do menstruators 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, in low-income countries, menstruation often keeps menstruators out of school entirely, new research suggests otherwise. Although most menstruators 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 menstruators 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 menstruators 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 menstruators 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 menstruators need to manage their periods safely and comfortably.
Not all women menstruate, and not all menstruators are women. At The Pad Project, we are dedicated to supporting all menstruators, and we want to make sure our fight for menstrual equity is gender inclusive. We use the term “menstruators” to refer to all people who experience menstruation, including cisgender, transgender, nonbinary, and genderfluid individuals. However, we as an organization are still learning and growing, and we welcome all feedback. If you see a way for us to be more inclusive, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org!