The theme of this work revolves around Awareness, Access and Affordability of hygienic products to all. The work starts from awareness program on menstruation. In this we try to educate women about what is menstruation. Why and how it happens, the changes taking place in the body and it’s benefits. The taboos attached to it. We try to give reasoning to prove why the myths attached to it are wrong.
Unfortunately in villages girls are made to give up schools when menstruation starts. There are many reasons for this, right from no proper toilet facilities in schools and fear of sending young girls away from home. As Govt. School are up to 8th STD only and then the girls have to travel to nearby town for high school.
The lack of knowledge about hygiene and shortage of cotton cloth leads to use of any available material which may or may not be hygienic. . Sometimes lack of proper protection becomes a reason to give up school. The use of wrong methods leads to different infections. This may end up in cervical cancer. The study shows alarming increase in such cancer cases.
We tried to find a solution to this problem as whole. The use of cloth is not practical because there is not enough water to wash it and taboo does not allow outdoor hanging in sunshine to dry it, especially in cities. The answer to this is good quality Sanitary Napkins. But women still don't look at it as an appropriate option for the cost and lack of access. Even in cities women shy from going to a chemist to buy napkins. The solution is to make women manufacture them and sake them. Make them easily assessable in cities and villages.
Keeping this in mind we started SAKHI a brand of cellulose based (plant fibres) organic sanitary napkins manufactured by women in villages and Bastis in cities. These units are established in a small room with minimum requirement of electricity. Machines are simple, hand operated and druggery free. Only women operate them, manufacture the napkins, and manage the units. A unit working with 6 to 8 women can make 40,000 napkins every month. As the units are established in one room of a house, the women can keep flexible hours and work as per their convenience. They are paid based on the quantity they manufacture. So more they produce, more they earn.
There are 10 such units are operating in and around Vadodara . There are more than 150 units operating in India using our machines and working pattern.
There are 12 units operating in Jorden in refugee settlement using our machines. This gives employment to the refugee women and also serve their need for the product. These are established by a British Social Worker working their with help if United Nations.
Units are coming up shortly in Camaroon and South Africa.
There are 9 units have been started in Bhutan by Bhutanes Govt.
Swati Bedekar who has started this movement has received numerous awards including Femina Laureal Woman of the year award. Project SAKHI has also featured in New York Times and BBC.
But problem do not end by just manufacturing the napkins . The day disposal of used napkins is a big problem as well. Vatsalya tried to find a doable solution to this global problem also. We manufacture a low cost terracotta Incenarator which can be kept anywhere in a village or girls' toilets in schools. Used napkins are put in this and at the end if the days are safely burnt in this. This devise does not need electricity. It looks simple and merges with the Background. This is becoming extremely popular and schools/colleges are installing them in great numbers. They are also installed at different places in villages and are working very well.
This product called "Ashudhinashak" has been awarded the best grass root innovation award from President of India. It is accepted as part of Swatch Bharat program.
Our aim is to make this entire program popular in the country. We do not want to sell the product from shops but keep this pattern of woman to woman sale by women to make it more accessible to everyone. Spread the use if Ashudhinashaks and stop the littering if used napkins on roads. Make women aware of the necessity to use proper protection and save them from infections. Give dignity to a woman to continue working throughout the month and have control on her body.
We wish to help the Devadasi community in Karnataka by setting up their own sanitary napkin manufacturing unit. The awareness programs will help them gain the knowledge on hygiene. They can use the napkins themselves and maintain hygiene. These napkins follow all the govt. guidelines and is totally biodegradable, they are liked by women and girls. The extra napkins made by the women can be sold outside to the nearest towns , schools, colleges and women will get a steady livelihood for themselves. This is an opportunity for them to get an alternative livelihood. This can give them an infection free life with dignity.