Menstruation in India is a taboo, sometimes even a shame. Let’s be frank here, how many of you have read or typed this word without thinking twice? To add to it, most of India cannot afford clean and hygienic menstrual care. Stats say that only 12% of women in India can afford sanitary napkins. Appalling isn’t it?!
28th May is recognized globally as #MenstrualHygieneDay. And it’s our pleasure to bring to you stories of 6 Indians we should be proud of who are making a difference in this space.
Image Credit: BBC News
Arunachalam Muruganantham from rural Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu stumbled upon his wife trying to hide some rags and came to know the problem that millions of women face in India and many developing countries. He decided to make low cost sanitary napkins and invented a machine that could manufacture them. Now, he has developed a machine that women in villages could use to make about 5,000 sanitary pads each month. His story inspired many and Murganandam was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential persons in 2014.
Aakar Innovations is a social enterprise which aims to empower and improve the living standard of underprivileged women by providing them with quality menstrual hygiene products at affordable prices. They have developed Anandi pads which are –
a) Cheap (one pack of 8 Anandi pads sells for 20 rupees)
b) Accessible – Manufactured by women self-help groups
c) Fully biodegradable
Eco Femme is a global women’s empowerment initiative. Rising from rural India, reaching out to women around the world, they promote and revitalize menstrual practices that are healthy, dignified, affordable and eco positive. They make washable cloth pads, “high-tech” versions – as they call it – of the traditional ones. Cloth pads are made with soft and durable cloth and can last for upto 5 years.
Image Credit: The Kachra Project
Here is yet another worrisome fact about menstrual products: while only 12% Indian women are using disposable sanitary napkins, we are still producing over 9000 tonnes of waste every month!
The Kachra Project is a social movement to bring awareness among the people of India, bring all stakeholders of the garbage and waste management sectors – industry experts, governments, general public, not-for-profit organizations, businesses, innovators etc – on a single platform and to push for policy change. They are doing a focused campaign called Period Of Change that pivots around menstrual waste as a starting point to lobby for change in current practices in waste management.
Menstrupedia is a website founded by Aditi Gupta, a small town girl from Jharkhand, that aims to spread awareness on menstrual health and hygiene. They even recently did a comic book that explains menstruation, the menstrual cycle, and puberty in an Indian context through a group of friends learning about periods and puberty. It’s become quite popular in India and other developing countries especially since the traditional education systems do a very poor job of introducing this topic to children.
Image Credit: Being Juliet
Being Juliet is the brainchild of another small town girl Rashi Bajaj that provides a subscription service (personal Romeo as she calls it) to pamper all the Juliets out there during their 5 cycle days. They aim to avoid the unpleasantness and stress that ensues while shopping before every period. Apart from regular menstrual supplies, they also provide thoughtful gifts in each monthly box.
These people are doing great work indeed! If you are a woman like me and bleed red every month, let’s do our bit and talk about it. If you are biologically wired to not menstruate (yes, you men), may be you should stop shying away from it!