We live in a country where menstruation is still considered a taboo subject and people shy away from talking about it; from knowing about the risks it brings to women’s health and associating it with impurity and godliness.
There are still about 300 million women in India who don’t use sanitary napkins or are unaware of it or the health issues related to mensuration.
The real Pad man of India – Arunachalam Murugannatham is well known for his contribution towards uplifting the issue of hygiene and importance of sanitary pads at the lowest price possible.
But are you aware of these NGOs and individuals across the country who work towards the betterment of women in rural areas by providing them education, work opportunities and making them aware about hygiene and importance of sanitary pads?
They also manufacture low cost, eco-friendly napkins and distribute them free of cost around these rural areas.
Let’s find out more about them:
1. Kanika Foundation in Trissur, Kerala
Headed by social worker, senior citizen Vasanthi Gopalan, this NGO is making biodegradable and eco-friendly napkins called ‘soukhyam’ with the help of 50 volunteering people, out of which most are women and senior citizens. They make around 200 packets from one small room. Inspired by the real pad man, they begin working a year ago.
Vasanthi Gopalan inculcated this idea around 15 years back when she came accross the plight of rural women during the tough days of their lives.
A 10-piece packet is sold for Rs 43 and around fifty packets are sent for free at a nearest girls’ home.
2. SaferWe Foundation
SaferWe run by Kalpana Hebleker, an international skill trainer by profession, feels for the rural women and thus began the work of providing women health and hygiene-related education to rural women. The foundation has proposed for a vending machine dispenser which costs around Rs. 75,000 and can dispense one sanitary pad for Rs.2 only. These pads are made of bamboo pulp and cotton and are completely disposable.
They are also working towards teaching women the whole process of manufacturing, so that it can work in their financial benefit as well.
3. Aakar Innovations
Mr. Jaydeep , the founder of Aakar innovations met Arunachalam Muruganatham (the inspiration behind the bollywood movie Padman) in 2010, and worked first hand on the machine deveoped by him. Tha’ts where the ideas was conceived in his mind. Aakar foundation works relentlessly towards women empowerment via Self-help groups, who manufacture the napkins and even distribute in the surrounding rural areas where people do not have an easy access.
Each factory provides direct employment to at least 15 women and also indirectly through Anandi sale commission to 15-20 women.
4. Kshitij Foundation/ Snehal Chaudari
Snehal Chaudari, a software professional, began her research at a very early age of 12 in the field. While she came across appalling facts regarding how women handled their periods, she decided to spread awareness and help rural women by appealing to women in better status via donations.
She also runs a campaign with hashtag #bleedthesilence where women write stories about myths surrounding period, their experience or other issues the women face with respect to menstruation.
5. Eco Femme
All about empowering women, eco femme is an initiative towards empowering women against period taboos. They manufacture reusable cloth sanitary napkins and teach women to manufacture for themselves in the rural areas.
It’s team of passionate women from around the world which includes volunteers, interns, and ambassadors as well. They are working all over the world.
6. Karishma Care Foundation
A Pune-based NGO Karishma care foundation, run by warm and compassionate Mrs Neelam Tuteja, the founder of the NGO who hails from Himachal is a motivational speaker for women empowerment.
She has launched Karishma Care sanitary pads on Menstrual Hygiene Day adopting around 300 students and providing them with the free supply of sanitary napkins throughout the year.
These pads are manufactured in the outskirts of Maharashtra by women in Self-help groups. Completely biodegradable, these pads will be distributed free of cost to the rural population around Maharashtra.
7. Sahyog Human Foundation
Operating from Faridabad, Haryana, this foundation has broken taboos related to mensuration among women and school girls who drop out at an early age unable to handle period issues.
The NGO is run by young and energetic people like Rahul Agrahari , the founder and his other volunteer friends.
They not only take workshops in Government schools but also distribute free sanitary napkins on a monthly basis.
8. Vatsalya Foundation
Set up by Swati Badekar and her husband Shyam Sunder Badekar, this foundation came up with an idea of low-cost sanitary napkins called “Sakhi”. And they did not just stop there. They also developed an incinerator for the disposal of pads.
9. Brinda Nagarajan
Brinda Nagarajan, left her full-time job to spread awareness about the hygiene and benefits of using sanitary napkins. She has done some tremendous work in the rural villages of Uttarakhand by conducting awareness camps and workshops. She also teaches these women to stitch sustainable and reusable cloth pads.
Goonj, a renowned NGO was founded by Anshu Gupta, who hails from a middle-class family in Dehradun. He has been a victim of the corrupt system while he was bed-ridden due to an accident. He began goonj to help people in need.
Goonj is working frivolously towards the betterment of rural women. They are manufacturing cloth sanitary pads and making them accessible to uneducated women.
Their initiative “Not Just A Piece Of Cloth”, started after 2004 tsunami, addresses the basic needs of women population in rural areas of hygienic pads.
11. Saathi Pads
Saathi was formed by three partners, Kristin Kagetsu, Tarun Bothra, Amrita Saigal, and Grace Kane – Graduate of MIT, Harvard and Nirma University in 2015. They worked towards manufacturing of biodegradable sanitary napkins, with the idea of improving women’ access across the country.
Saathi pads are made of Banana Fibre. This is usually otherwise discarded. This also provides earning opportunities to farmers, apart from being extremely eco-friendly.
These people have become the torch-bearers in breaking the worst taboo to women population and have guided millions towards the right path of sanitation, hygiene and long healthy lives.
However, there is still a need for more such foundations and individuals since a big part of India’s population lives in rural areas with minimal facilities and zero awareness.
Have you come across any such people or foundations who are supporting this noble cause? Do let us know in the comments.