'Oscar will help create awareness on menstrual hygiene'

Arunachalam Muruganandham

When the makers of 'Period. End of Sentence', the documentary that won Oscars on Monday, approached Arunachalam Muruganandham for making a film on his life-long crusade on menstrual hygiene, he had only one request – concentrate on the subject and not his struggle.

And on Monday, the 55-year-old, who figured in the 100 most influential persons’ list released by Times Magazine in 2014, was vindicated – the message that menstrual hygiene is the basic right of every woman reached far and wide. ‘PadMan’ a successful movie starring Akshay Kumar was the biopic of Muruganandham, the man who spent his life making the world’s first low-cost sanitary pad making machine.

“The Oscar recognition would help us and others fighting for the cause immensely. The awareness on menstrual hygiene would now be a subject that will be discussed everywhere,” Muruganandham, the country’s ‘PadMan’, told DH from Coimbatore. The documentary ‘Period: End of Sentence’ is set in a village in Uttar Pradesh outside Delhi where women of the hamlet lead a revolution against deeply rooted stigma of menstruation.

“In the Hapur village where the documentary is set, women were treated as second-class citizens and patriarchy was at its full display. When we installed a sanitary pad vending machine in the village, the women learnt to manufacture and market their own pads, empowering their community,” he said.

Muruganandham said he wanted the documentary to focus on the subject – woman – since he was not comfortable talking about himself. “What is the point in talking about Muruganandham? Why not talk about the issue itself? Now the movie has won Oscars and millions of people will talk about menstrual hygiene,” he said.

The ‘PadMan’ says every citizen has to contribute his bit to society rather than questioning what the society has given to him. “Once you start contributing to the society, you will bear the fruits of success yourself. There is always give and take and that makes the society,” he said.

Muruganandham, who had never boasted about awards he received including the Padma Shri honour, says the Oscars for the film based on him would go a long way in taking his work to the world.

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