According to a survey conducted by Yearoutindia, over 95% of young girls do not use a disposable sanitary towel during menstruation. Instead, the use of old, unhygienic rags is very prevalent
The main reason women and girls use rags as opposed to disposable towels is because there is a taboo associated to buying them from shops. The majority of shopkeepers stocking the items are male, which causes a barrier associated to embarrassment. Additionally, the cost of disposable sanitary towels is often too much for women and girls from very low-income families.
The use of cloth or rags as opposed to disposable sanitary wear is not unhealthy in principle – the use of dirty, damp cloths however, can be very dangerous for women’s health. Provided that cloths are clean and dry, they are safe to use during menstruation. However, there is embarrassment surrounding leaving cloths exposed to the heat of the sun to dry. As a result, the cloths are often hidden, which can prevent them drying out properly. Switching to disposable pads eliminates the problems associated to reusing cloths.
Our plan is to fundraise and install sanitary towel manufacturing units at our Tribal Settlement Project sites in the Western Ghat Mountains. We plan to use the funds raised to source and provide manual and semi-automatic sanitary towel making machines to women’s groups in rural communities, enabling them to manufacture their own sanitary towels. We aim to implement our goals in a sustainable, self-funding, and environmentally friendly way.