Self Empowerment and Women's Health
It's difficult to believe that many women in India are still unaware of sanitary napkins or its use. Menstruation is a taboo subject. As a result, women during this period are considered impure. Even if a young woman wants to use one, she either does not have access to affordable pads or the sales person in the pharmacy is a man, where she feels too shy to buy. URJA is working hard to battle these taboo's. To find out more on URJA's work, feel free to read through the information below.
Menstrual Hygiene is an issue that every woman has to deal with from around the age of 12, until she reaches menopause (late 40s). The approximate total duration of menstruation in a woman's lifetime is around 2,100 days, or 6 years. Proper and hygienic management of menstruation requires access to sanitary napkins, besides safe sanitation and disposal practices. Poor access of menstrual hygiene restricts movement and self confidence, and in extreme circumstances causes a number of health problems among adolescent girls and women.
The implications of poor menstrual hygiene are very serious, and can even lead to severe, life-threatening illnesses. Among adolescent girls, there is evidence to suggest that lack of menstrual hygiene leads to poor attendance and girls dropping out of school. Among women it may lead to serious ailments including reproductive tract infections. It is widely known across the world that the use of sanitary napkins, if manufactured in hygienic manner, could be a simple remedy to all such problems.
Lack of Awareness
Most women from underprivileged families residing in rural and urban locations in India lack awareness about the health benefits of using sanitary napkins or the risk involved in having unhygienic menstrual management practices. Among other things they often use grass or mud during their menstrual cycle.
Financial constraints: Even those women and girls who are aware about the benefit of sanitary napkins do not take it as a subject of priority to spend money on sanitary napkins. This is largely because these products are costly for 72% of India's population, who earn less than 2 dollars a day. There is limited availability of sanitary napkins at economical prices and almost non-availability in rural and remote areas. Most of the market is catered by multinational companies and therefore market penetration is very low (estimated to be as low as 10 – 15 %).
Promotion of Social Enterprise
The project will help women to have locally available, low cost sanitary napkins, produced and managed by SHG women members for safe menstrual hygiene management. This project has a unique combination of a social aspect as well income generating activities for a group of women members. This will not only educate women about the importance of menstrual and reproductive health but also provides a platform to generate employment. The project believes that when health education is combined with the availability of an option or product, it will ensure greater behavioural change and actual utilization of a clean, safe product (sanitary napkins). Education and awareness is necessary but not sufficient and simply selling sanitary napkins is also not enough. Thus, a combination of behavioural change education with the promotion of a cheap, safe product is a combination approach that is expected to work best.
Cost of Sanitary napkin per consumer - Rs. 20
Price of one packet for Self Help Group, from production to sale - Rs 18
To establish one unit - total costs approx. - 20, 000 euros
One of the main goals was to remove the taboo surrounded around sanitary napkins. Many young women in India are unaware of the uses and hygienic benefits of sanitary pads. URJA’s project helps women by producing low cost sanitary napkins.
These are produced and managed by SHG women members for safe menstrual hygiene management.This project combines a social aspect as well income generating activities for 10 female members.This will not only educate women about the importance of menstrual and reproductive health but also provides a platform to generate employment.