As soon as the short film, ‘Period – End of Sentence’, won an Oscar at the 91st Academy Awards, Sneha and Suman, residents of village Kathikhera of Hapur district here suddenly became superstars. This film, revolving around their work on social awareness on the use of sanitary pads during menstrual cycle, has made them household names.
On Monday, during the Oscar award ceremony, the moment the presenter announced the magical words, “And the Oscar in the Documentary Short Subject category goes to ‘Period. End of Sentence’”, the entire Kathikhera village erupted with joy and pride.
As for 22-year-old Sneha and her 37-year-old sister-in-law, Suman (brother’s wife), it was a magical moment as they witnessed the action live at the Dolby Theatre, Los Angeles, California.
Hailing from a conservative family, and milieu, it was never easy for them to set up a workshop to manufacture sanitary napkins for women to be used during their menstrual cycles, leave alone talk about the issue which is considered a taboo in the larger Indian society.
Undaunted, and determined, the two gathered the courage to raise the issue of menstruation cycle and use of sanitary napkins. And now, this short film has taken them to the world stage, something no one in their wildest dreams would have thought.
The atmosphere is electric in this remote village of Hapur, now known across the country and the globe.
Sneha and Suman visited the USA on February 21 after receiving an invitation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. On Monday, the two called up the family members to give them the news of winning the coveted award.
Overwhelmed by this success of his daughter Sneha and daughter-in-law Suman, Rajendra Tanwar calls it an honour for Hapur district and the entire country. He also congratulated the entire village and thanked the villagers for extending their support to Sneha and Suman.
According to Tanwar, Suman and Sneha are associated with a women’s welfare group “Mahila Sabla Sangh” . Two years ago, an NGO, Action India, approached them to educate women and girls about health and hygiene which included the menstruation cycle. Making sanitary napkins was also a part of the project.
Taking up the project, Sneha and Suman decided to install sanitary napkin making machine at their home in the village. Finally, it was installed in a small room in their house.
Thereafter, they started educating young women and girls of the village about menstrual hygiene and how safe and healthy it is to use sanitary pads.
It was not an easy task for them, claimed Tanwar, adding that their hard work eventually yielded result as they managed to take along some women of the village with them.
It was a Herculean task in a village with a population of over 4500 but both Suman and Sneha did their best to involve more and more women. They also managed to get the support of 25-year-old Pradhan Sakshi. Presently, over a dozen young girls and women are associated with the project. These women make door-to-door visits and provide pads to women at a nominal price.
“It was a difficult task to talk about such an issue in the conservative village like this. But the girls did it boldly and now the entire village is elated with their success, said Rajpal Singh, father-in-law of Pradhan Sakshi.
He said their work caught attention overseas and about one-and-a-half-year back, a team from the USA, accompanied by Action India, came to the village and shot a film on the work done by Sneha and Suman.
It was this film that got nominated for the Oscars and hence the duo got an invitation to attend the awards ceremony.
The entire village is now waiting eagerly for their local heroes to return amid them.