Attending the 91st Academy Awards as a nominee for documentary short subject is an experience that collegiate member Claire Sliney, Pennsylvania, says she’ll never forget. The morning of the nominations, Claire remembers sitting in her room in the Psi chapter house on FaceTime with the other members of her nonprofit, The Pad Project. With volunteers based all around the world, they were livestreaming the nominations. When Claire heard them announce “Period. End of Sentence.” she started screaming.
That was the first time she heard it. The second time was on Feb. 24 at the Academy Awards, when “Period. End of Sentence.” won an Academy Award in the documentary short category. As a producer, Claire joined her fellow filmmakers, including director Rayka Zehtabchi and co-producer Melissa Berton, on stage to accept the Oscar.
“Period. End of Sentence.” was a journey that began for Claire in high school. As a member of Girls Learn International, a club dedicated to gender equality, human rights and equal access to education, Claire attended the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. There, she learned about urgent human rights matters affecting women around the world and was inspired to make a difference.
One issue that caught her attention was girls struggling to stay in school during their periods due to a lack of health education and sanitary products.
“There we also heard about an Indian-made sanitary-pad-producing machine that could be a potential solution to this issue,” says Claire. “It was then that we decided to form our nonprofit, The Pad Project, and partner with the Indian NGO, Action India, and the village of Kathikhera to raise money to install one of these machines in the village.”
To create awareness for the work they were doing and to reduce the stigma surrounding menstruation, Claire and the rest of The Pad Project team decided to create a documentary “Period. End of Sentence.” which tells the story of women in rural India creating their own sanitary pads. By doing so, the women not only help improve feminine hygiene, but they also empower the women in their community to shed the taboos surrounding their periods.
“I believe that it is so important that this film is used to enact tangible change by giving people a look into just one of the issues facing women and girls today,” says Claire. “I hope that people all around the world are watching it and are starting conversations about periods and women’s health at large. It is so important to start conversations to end discriminatory, cultural taboos, and I think that this film has the power to do that.”
As a current student at the University of Pennsylvania, Claire is majoring in philosophy, politics, economics, along with gender, women’s and sexuality studies. She hopes to continue the work she began in high school through The Pad Project, helping improve and change the lives of women worldwide.
Claire also says Tri Delta is one of the organizations she’s most proud to be a part of. “Joining Tri Delta forced me to step out of my comfort zone and meet entirely new people, but it also introduced me to such an empowered, loving network of women and I could not be more grateful to be a part of it.”
As for her time in the spotlight following the Oscar win, Claire says, “This entire experience has been absolutely surreal. If you had asked me six years ago where I expected The Pad Project to be today, I never would have thought the answer would be winning an Oscar for our documentary, but I just feel so grateful that we have been able to use this incredible platform to start conversations and fight taboos!”