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).
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