This is the story of a young man who decided to venture into producing and distributing free sanitary pads for the women of rural Maharashtra.
Yes, there are certain sections in the society that have got their fair share of education and yet remain cagey about speaking on menstrual hygiene. And those who have the ‘courage’ to break free go on to be branded mentally unstable…
Meet Sachin Asha Subhash, the 25-year-old who decided to make a difference to the economically weaker sections and went on to make and distribute free sanitary pads in the rural areas of Maharashtra.
“I have seen the lack of awareness even among the women in the rural areas of the state regarding menstrual hygiene. Even mothers do not speak to their daughters because they hardly have any knowledge themselves. Even in 2018, this social stigma is very prominent and has been taking the lives of many women since ages.
62% women do not use pads mainly due to lack of accessibility (shy to buy) and affordability which lead these women using unhygienic methods and risking their lives.
Even my mother had to be operated and her uterus was removed at a very young age, I had seen her deteriorating. Which is why I named this pad ‘Asha’ after her which also means hope; a hope for the lives of many women in the country.
“We also started with the concept of ‘Wall of Humanity’ in Pune. Ample amount of clothes were received to be donated to the needy and the tribals of Maharashtra. On visiting them, we realised that we ought to put in effort to make their lives much easier.
We gathered samples from across the state from different manufacturers to research and develop the ‘Asha’ pad that is more convenient, cheaper, and accessible and also provides employment to many.
From the choices of cloth available, we developed this four layered cotton cloth pad which is safe and hygienic in relation to the regular pads that are sold in the market.
Samajh Bandh (NGO) is entirely a volunteer based organisation that gathers raw materials from people (cotton clothes) post which they are made by a group of needy ladies. The salaries of these women are gathered by selling cloth bags made out of the donated clothes.
Speaking more about the entire program and their expansion plans, Sachin says, “ Currently the volunteers visit villages across the state and organise seminars and awareness programs.
We also teach them how to make sanitary pads for themselves that can be used for 10 hours a day for 3-4 months. Though we make around 5000 sanitary pads in a month, we do not sell them. They are either distributed among the needy women or given as samples.
“We are often called to different places for the awareness drives. Even now women are not comfortable even listening about menstruation especially when a man talks, hence we have around 40 female volunteers who are trained to give the talks.
These volunteers ( my sisters included) give us regular feedback on the quality of the product by using them, which further helps us to improve quality.
We often encourage women to share the word with their friends who skipped the program. Our next step would be to form ‘Bachat Gat’ (self-help groups) in several villages and let them work for themselves. They can make pads which will cost them at best five rupees and they can then be sold in the surrounding areas.”
“I think more and more youngsters – men and women, should come out and speak about it. It is only then that people will realise it is important and begin to take it seriously, he adds.
Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @KaurKaur18
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