Islamabad/London– Pakistani activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has backed Twinkle Khanna’s film “Pad Man” on menstrual hygiene, saying it imparts an “inspiring” message.
Yousafzai met “Pad Man” producer Twinkle as the latter addressed students at The Oxford Union, the world’s most prestigious debating society, on Thursday.
“I’m really excited to see the film ‘Pad Man’… because the message behind the film is truly inspiring,” Yousafzai told Twinkle before her speech, read a statement.
Twinkle, who is also an author, joined cultural, political and high profile figures here, ahead of the worldwide release of her much-anticipated debut as producer, of “Pad Man”, in cinemas on January 25.
“Pad Man” is based on the life of social entrepreneur and activist Arunachalam Muruganantham, who revolutionised sanitary hygiene in rural India 20 years ago by inventing a machine to make low-cost sanitary pads.
Eager students attended Twinkle’s session at The Oxford Union in what marked the first time for an Indian film to be showcased at the institution.
Twinkle engaged the audience by explaining why the world needs to know about the story and the importance of spotlighting issues relating to menstrual hygiene.
“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 also pointed out the global nature of the problems including in the UK, saying that: “In the beginning, I thought that period poverty was only a problem in my country and countries like Africa, Bangladesh, but groups like Plan International UK have found that one in 10 school girls in the UK itself are missing school because they are unable to afford hygiene products and end up using substitutes like rolled up socks.”
In the question-and-answer session that followed her speech, Twinkle asked the audience to raise their hands if they were currently on their periods. When almost three quarters of the room raised their arms, Twinkle said: “Now imagine sitting here with a rag cloth or a rolled up sock or even wadded up newspaper between your legs. Would it even be possible for you to study under those circumstances?
“Yet, pads are still seen as a luxury item. It is odd that pads are taxed at 12 percent in India but brooms are tax free, because it is more important that you keep your house clean rather than your body, and that America has taxes on tampons but Viagra is in fact tax-free, perhaps because policies are made by 65-year-old men.”
Asked whether or not she could accept the fact that religious practices can sometimes form an obstacle when it comes to female menstruation, Twinkle said: “In Hinduism, you often see the priest sweating in front of the ï¿½Yajna’ (a ritual conducted in front of a sacred fire). If god can accept his sweat, then he can accept my blood!” (IANS)