In many societies there is still discomfort about periods or menstruation. Women keep the matter secret as much as possible, men also avoid it. An organization in Jaipur, India has taken menstrual hygiene to a different level.
Sanitary pads in India are usually sold in black plastic bags Because, social slander around the issue of menstruation is not less. So there is a trend of keeping sanitary pads hidden from the eyes of others. Even in a big city like Jaipur, many feel uncomfortable going to a shop to buy sanitary pads.
Harshita Aggarwal of Jaipur wants to break that taboo. She doesn’t feel the need to hide her sanitary pads. Instead, he pointed it out with pride. Harshita was happy to be able to choose the pad of her choice from a variety of designs.
Harshita says, ‘We can now choose between many pads. Girls are usually shy to carry sanitary pads. We kept them out of sight, sometimes hidden in notebooks, so no one could see. But these pads look so good that there’s no need to hide them. People also find them beautiful.’
These pads are different from the common sanitary pads in the market because of the design and attractive design. Also they are made of cloth. That is, this pad can be cleaned and used again and again.
‘Mere Pad’ or ‘Amar Pad’ is the brainchild of Bharti Singh Chauhan and her team. He said, this pad can be used for five years. This product is especially useful for women who do not have access to sanitary products, or who cannot afford to buy such pads every month. Chauhan said, ‘People often ask me, once they sell, they will not need to buy it again. Then you will have a big loss. But giving women an option that is eco-friendly and affordable has always been our goal. That’s why we designed it. The market is really big. 26 percent of women use disposable pads. The rest are all my potential customers.’
As these sanitary pads are reusable, they not only save money but are also environmentally friendly. Does not have any negative impact on the environment. Bharti Singh Chauhan said, ‘If a woman uses disposable sanitary pads for five years, she can reduce 19.2 kilos of waste. It takes 500 to 800 years for the waste to decompose due to the presence of plastics, chemicals and perfumes. This pad can be used repeatedly for five years. Then if it is thrown away, it will take three to six months to decompose.’
Disposable products are designed for one time use. More than 100 crore sanitary pads are thrown away in India every month. They went into the garbage heap. As a result, the amount of sanitary waste is about one lakh 13 thousand tons per year.
About 50 percent of women aged 15 to 24 in India, especially in rural areas, still use cloth as protection during periods. But unsanitary practices leave a huge risk of infection. Bharti Singh and her team often visit villages to talk to women about menstruation, answer their questions and highlight the benefits of using handmade sanitary pads.
This all-women team makes seamless production possible. From cutting, sewing to packing – they do everything themselves. Through this work, they are not only becoming financially independent, but at the same time, they are getting the courage to break the silence about menstrual health and hygiene. As an employee of Mera Pads, Rizwana said, ‘When I go to a drug store, I immediately ask for sanitary pads. The shop worker handed it to me. That was normal, but the girls present started laughing at me. Once I asked them why they were laughing. They say, it is a shame to talk so openly. I then explained to them that it is not dirty talk and there is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a matter related to our body. There is absolutely no reason to be ashamed.’
The sanitary pad market in India is dominated by large companies But slowly ‘Mera Pad’ is taking its own place Jaipur girls are buying it. Not in plastic bags, but they are carrying it openly.