India, Tamil Nadu: promoting menstrual hygiene in the slums

Women of slums in the city [of Tiruchi] are awakening to the significance of personal hygiene, thanks to the efforts of three women from different self help groups advocating the use of sanitary napkins for better menstrual health.

Women from around ten slums […] have switched over to sanitary napkins, after being enlightened on its benefits.

S.Jacqueline, N.Sathyavani and A.Fathima embarked on a door-to-door campaign in slums three years ago, creating awareness on safe menstrual practices and the use of sanitary napkins. The women were trained by WEAT (Women Entrepreneurs Association of Tamil Nadu) and were assisted in procurement of production machines by the People’s Development Initiative (PDI).

Self help group members selling sanitary napkins to women in a slum near Sangiliyandapuram in Tiruchi.

Self help group members selling sanitary napkins to women in a slum near Sangiliyandapuram in Tiruchi. Photo: R. Ashok

The production unit at Rural Mart, which started with 30 napkins a week, today produces an average of 200 pieces a day. Raw materials are purchased in bulk for five months from Rajapalyam at subsidised rates. They also sell their products in schools, colleges and through vending machines stationed at offices and institutions.

The cost of a packet of six pieces is Rs. 15 [32 US dollar cents] and single pieces are sold at an average of Rs. 2.50 per napkin [5 US dollar cents]. “We want to bring down the price to Rs. 1.50 [3 US dollar cents] per piece. We need advanced machines for which we are planning to approach financial institutions for loans,” said Ms. Sathyavani

The trio visit each slum weekly to distribute the napkins and to create awareness on safe menstrual practises . “Despite our persuasion, nearly 50 percent of the women are hesitant to use sanitary napkins, preferring the use of rags,” said Ms.Jacqueline. The main reason cited by these women is lack of facilities to dispose or replace napkins in their place of work, primarily building sites. Thirty women from districts like Salem, Erode and Dindigul have been trained so far. N.Manimekalai, Head, Department of Women Studies, Bharathidasan University, siad that the napkins produced are sterilised and WEAT would apply for BSI certification at the earliest.

Source: Olympia Shilpa Gerald, The Hindu, 17 Jul 2010

2 responses to “India, Tamil Nadu: promoting menstrual hygiene in the slums

  1. Dear Madams/Sirs;

    I am writing this letter from an NGO, namely Tiret Community Empowerment for Change Assocition(TCECA) which is engaged to improve the livelihood of the disadvantaged groups of women in Ethiopia.

    I really impressive and interesting know about the product of menstrual pads or eco-pads.

    I would like to know more detaile information about the menstrual pads or eco-pads which is washable and reusable for more than two years. I urgently need relevant information about menstrual pads (eco-pads) that has been designed by the women groups’ of Tamil Nadu, India. These menstrual pads designed for rural women’s of India. The menstrual pads or towels use 100% cotton flannel and a nylon protective casing which has a lifecycle of two years. These cloth menstrual pads require hand washing in salty cold water or with soap where available. These menstrual pads are rewashable and reusable for about more than two years.

    I am looking your kindly response about this product in the very soon.

    Haileselassie Abraha
    Executive Director

  2. to no about.helping& small bussiness

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