ON OUR WAY!...
When one girl gets her period, she may miss a class.
When another girl gets her period, she may never go to class again.
We are a group of young women who want to change that. We need your help to raise money to fund a documentary as we work with a community of women and girls in Hapur, a region outside of New Delhi, India. Our film will follow a group of high school students and their teachers as they work with their partner school in Hapur to set up a sanitary pad machine in India. With your support "The Pad Project" will be able to educate a wider audience about the importance of girls' education.
WHO WE ARE
Oakwood Chapter of GLI
First and foremost, we are a group of individuals who are passionate about equal access to education for all genders. We are members of Girls Learn International, a program within the Feminist Majority Foundation that allows high school students in the US and abroad to join the fight for equality in education for women and girls. Over the years, our chapter of GLI has worked extensively on the issue of menstrual health and access to menstrual products for women and girls, both in our community and in other countries. We've partnered with, and fund-raised for, schools in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Sierra Leone, and have had the opportunity to communicate directly with girls there, learning about their lives and experiences managing their periods.
We recognize that we are lucky enough to have grown up with access to menstrual products and want to work with girls our own age to make sure that they also have access to affordable, hygienic supplies. Though we can't claim to know how to solve such a complex problem, we can claim that we're committed to raising the money for the girls there that do. We've done our research and made our plan, and now we need your help to make a moving and important film that will show that while adolescent girls may grow up in very different circumstances, we all have hopes and ambitions and the right to an education that will help us achieve our dreams.
Around the world, girls drop out of school at puberty because of a widespread lack of access to affordable and hygienic menstrual products. This problem is exacerbated in developing communities, where a disproportionate number of girls and women grow up without pads, tampons, or any safe alternative to manage their periods. Girls often feel ashamed of their periods or do not understand them fully, and are consequently rendered helpless by this natural process. Without menstrual products or proper education about their bodies, millions of girls end up missing school or dropping out entirely once they begin menstruating.
Globally, and especially in developing communities, women and girls who face an extreme lack of access to menstrual products resort to leaves, dirty rags, and even ashes. The combination of period stigmatization and lack of resources that these girls face has grave consequences for their well-being and education.
Research has shown that in developing countries such as Afghanistan, India, and Uganda, between 25 and 57 percent of adolescent girls miss school or drop out altogether because of their periods. These girls are being denied their basic human right to an education, something that could otherwise empower them to build careers and combat poverty in their communities.
Why is it so important for girls to stay in school? If girls receive seven full years of education, they will marry an average of four years later and have 2.2 fewer children. If they attend just one additional year of secondary school, their lifetime wages could increase by up to twenty percent, consequently raising their countries' GDPs by billions of dollars. If India enrolled just one percent more girls in school, their GDP would rise by 5.5 billion dollars. It's simple; educating women and girls has a concrete economic and social impact on individuals, communities and nations. Just as importantly, it provides young girls in harsh circumstances with knowledge about the world and their bodies, confidence, and a sense of self.
Luckily, the world is starting to understand how much more powerful every nation would be if all girls were educated to the same degree as boys. Creative, passionate organizations and individuals have been designing products, launching campaigns, and spreading awareness about the pressing need to ensure access to menstrual products. One of them, Arunachalam Muruganatham (pictured in the video), invented a machine that manufactures sanitary pads out of natural, locally-sourced materials at a stunningly low cost--just 5 cents per unit.
Muruganantham's machine, and others like it, do more than just provide pads for communities that need them. They create micro-enterprises within those communities, employing women to work the machines and thus stimulate local economies. And, most importantly, they help to empower women and girls to feel comfortable with their bodies and to stay in school past puberty. Over the past five years, our chapter of Girls Learn International has raised money for two such machines for schools in Afghanistan. Now, we want to take it a step further and film the process of what happens when girls across continents work together to set up a machine and implement it within a community. The young women in the group shots in our video are from Action India, GLI's first partner organization, and together with the girls from Action India, we aim to create a film that will inspire and educate ourselves and others about the links between menstruation, education, and feminism.
WHY WE NEED YOUR HELP
Though we're ready to give this project everything we've got, we can't do it all on our own. We need money to make the film so that we can raise awareness, and also for the machine itself as well as for enough raw materials to get the cycle going for a year as the micro economy starts up. We are also raising money for an incinerator to go along with the machine, so that the women and girls in the community will have an efficient way to manage waste produced by the used pads. The ashes from the incinerator are then used to make the fluff for the inside of a pad.
THE OVERALL BUDGET FOR THE FILM
A MORE DETAILED BUDGET FOR THE MACHINE AND SUPPLIES FOR ONE YEAR
RAISING AWARENESS ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF GIRLS' EDUCATION THROUGH FILM
In addition to money for the machine, we need funding to make this film happen. From travel fees to filming to editing to distribution, there's a lot to cover. We will be working with Action India to find an Indian film crew to work with us and hope to pay them as best we can. Any and all help we get will be immensely appreciated; as little as $5 will take us one step closer to producing a film that will impact the lives of women and girls globally. Our aim in creating a documentary and not just raising money for one machine is to inspire other girls to raise money for other machines too. If any money is made from the film, it will go directly back into the cause. This is a non-profit documentary.
OUR PARTNERS: ACTION INDIA AND THE FEMINIST MAJORITY FOUNDATION
We are partnering with Action India.
In their own words, "Action India founded in 1976, has taken many big and small path breaking initiatives by grassroots women, which clearly indicates the strong potential in women to become change agents in the process of social transformation. Action India sustains a balance between community based work and the universal struggle for women’s rights. While protesting against wrongs, Action India simultaneously creates alternative modes of self-help, self-esteem and self-assertion."
Our other partner and fiscal sponsor is The Feminist Majority Foundation.
They are our fiscal sponsor and all funds that you pledge will go through them. Because they are a non-profit, you may have the ability to receive a full or partial tax deduction for your pledge (please contact a tax professional for tax questions). FMF is the parent organization of GLI, and was founded in 1987. It is a cutting edge organization dedicated to women's equality, reproductive health, and non-violence. In all spheres, FMF utilizes research and action to empower women economically, socially, and politically. GLI and FMF believe that feminists -- both women and men, girls and boys -- are the majority, but this majority must be empowered.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
Rayka Zehtabchi (Director) is an award winning female Iranian-American director based out of Los Angeles. Madaran, Rayka’s directorial debut, has screened worldwide at established film festivals, winning her several “Best Director” and “Short Film” awards. Her Senior thesis film We Home, which was made at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, starred the up and coming Ashton Sanders, who recently played the leading role of “Chiron” in this year’s A24 film Moonlight. Rayka is currently developing the feature film for Madaran as well as directing The Pad Project documentary this Spring.
Vaishali Sinha (Consultant) is an award winning filmmaker of Indian origin. She is the Co-Director/Producer of the feature length documentary MADE IN INDIA about the personal stories behind the phenomenon of "outsourcing" surrogates to India. The film premiered as a festival favorite at Hot Docs Film Festival and aired on PBS in 2012. It received several jury awards at film festivals and is currently part of many university curriculums across the US and worldwide. Her current documentary in progress, ASK THE SEXPERT, is centered on a highly popular sex advice column for a daily newspaper in India against the backdrop of a ban on sex education in schools in several Indian states. The film is supported by ITVS (public media), MacArthur Foundation, Catapult Fund, Tribeca Film Institute, Firelight Media and the Hot Docs Pitching Forum. Vaishali's other works include interactive web documentaries, and short films. Vaishali also produces films for Center forReproductive Rights. In the past she has worked with women’s rights group Point of View in Mumbai. Vaishali uses filmmaking as a platform to explore and discuss socially sensitive issues. She is originally from Mumbai, and now resides in Brooklyn, NY with her partner Fred Lassen, a Music Director and their two year old son Luca.
This project has been years in the making, and it's one that we feel truly passionate about. We want you to know that we've done as much research as we can to ensure that this project will be successful and sustainable for the community we work with. Every cent you donate will fund a non-profit project that seeks to provide a practical, real-world approach to the complicated issue of menstrual health and education in the developing world as well as here in the United States. If this project can help keep just one girl in school, our mission will be successful.
Risks and challenges
-Traveling to India
-Hiring a Film Crew in India
While we cannot overcome many of these challenges until we are in India, we will be working very hard to learn as much as we can in anticipation and planning accordingly.
- (30 days)