Jeevika Trust want to address the conservative taboo that menstruation is dirty and meet the needs of girls and women of reproductive age in village India to have access to hygienic, cost-effective, eco-disposable sanitary napkins. Access to sanitary napkins is a health issue and the UN have branded the stigma a “violation of several human rights, most importantly of the right to dignity.” Ideally, the women want to make them for themselves and other poor villagers.
And we would love to hear your ideas about how we can help them do this.
Do you know why sanitary napkins are more than a piece of cloth?
- 74% of rural women use unsanitized cloth during menstruation
- In the poorest villages, where there is no access to a spare piece of cloth, women will use gunny (hessian) bags, sand, ash, rice husk or newspaper to stem their flow which creates Reproductive Tract Infections
- The same piece of cloth is often used repeatedly over a long period of time – and sometimes by women in the same household – and not adequately washed or dried, which is unhygienic
- Lack of access to menstrual hygiene – which includes sanitary napkins, toilets in schools, availability of water, privacy and safe disposal – sees some 23% of girls drop-out from school.
Are you aware that menstruation defines the life of women and girls in India?
- Average menstruation age is 13.4 years – in many villages this is considered the age from which girls can marry
- One in 6 girls in India begin child-bearing between the ages of 13-16
- 50% of all girls urban and rural have no understanding of this basic biological process
- Maternal mortality in India represents 15% of all deaths of women of reproductive age
- Taboos around menstruation include being required to sleep outdoors, not being able to touch food consumed by others, attend family functions or enter temples.
Some ecological & health impacts of disposable napkins
- Most disposable pads end up littering village roadsides or are burned in huge trash heaps which release toxins from plastics into the atmosphere
- Popular branded sanitary napkins/tampons, eg. Stayfree, Whisper, Playtex, Tampex, etc, are made up of plastic fleece, plastic-based gel, polyethylene and chlorine, all of which are highly toxic and are linked to cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease and Reproductive Tract Infections
- It is estimated 58,500 million pads would be generated each year if every woman of reproductive age in India used disposable sanitary napkins
- A disposable pad is estimated to take between 500-800 years to decompose.
Central Government solutions in 17 States have cost Rs 44.21 million = approx. £440,000
- While this has so far provided 15 million school girls, new mothers & women prisoners with sanitary napkins, supplies are insufficient and do not adequately address need for safe disposal.
Jeevika has many ideas about how to address these issues but is still developing a suitable strategy to enable village women and girls to design a strategy to make & dispose of sanitary napkins for themselves & others in a cost-effective, hygienic, eco-friendly way.
If you have any ideas you would like to contribute to this strategy – no matter how wild – we would love to hear from you!
Email now! firstname.lastname@example.org