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Water & Sanitation

Malala Really Wants You to See This Inspiring Film About Periods

“Padman,” the Bollywood blockbuster about the quest to provide affordable sanitary pads to women in India already counts A-listers Akshay Kumar and Sonam Kapoor among its cast, but enthusiastic support from another superstar has further uplifted its crucial message.

Nobel Peace Prize recipient Malala Yousafzai joined “Padman” producer Twinkle Khanna at Oxford University on Thursday to discuss the film, the first movie ever showcased at the prestigious college.

“I’m really excited to see the film ‘Padman,’ and am looking forward to seeing the trailer shortly because the message behind the film is truly inspiring,” Yousafzai, Oxford’s most famous current student, told her peers.

Take Action:  #ItsBloodyTime World Leaders Prioritize Menstrual Hygiene for Girls’ Education

“Padman” is based on the story of Arunachalam Muruganantham, a real-life social activist who gave his wife a sanitary pad to replace the cheap rag she used while having her period. Inspired by his wife’s reluctance to spend money on expensive pads, Muruganantham set out to manufacture and distribute a more affordable, high-quality pad for women around the country.

Khanna said she hopes the film will further Muruganantham’s mission.

"I hope this movie becomes a movement where women are no longer held back or shamed by their biological functions,” Khanna said.

"My primary motivation to make a movie on menstruation was to bring awareness to a subject that so far has been tucked away in shadows and like Voldemort is never mentioned," she continued.

Read More: Yet Another Young Woman Died in a Menstrual Hut

Despite significant gains in providing access to menstrual health resources, women around the world continue to face stigma related to menstruation. In addition, the high cost of pads and tampons and the failure of many communities to prioritize hygiene and sanitation often force women to miss school or work while having their period.

In India, about 300 million women use cloth or rags instead of sanitary pads and about 20% of adolescent girls drop out of school because they lack access to clean, private facilities to manage their periods.

Global Citizen campaigns on ensuring access to pads, tampons, and other menstrual health resources for girls and women around the world. You can take action on this issue here.

Read More: Malala’s ‘Girl Power Trip’ Includes Meeting School Girls in Nigeria, Condemning Boko Haram

Though “Padman” won’t hit theaters until January 25, the film has already encouraged women’s rights advocates working to combat period taboos and make pads available to every girl and woman in India.

"The trailer of this film has generated a buzz around periods," Kavya Menon of India’s Sustainable Menstruation Kerala Collective told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"We hope the conversations will also lead to discussions on what sanitary pads are made of, safe disposal and sustainable menstruation."