Why should an individual choose to spend his unforeseeable life to boost the sanitary napkin usage in India? Strange and preposterous, right? I was inside that bubble until I came across startling facts about Indian women and their plummeted bond with the sanitary napkin market in the country. To start with some woeful facts, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women. India tops the world in the number of cervical cancer deaths. Every year, over 1, 32,000 women get affected by cancer, of which over 72,000 lose their battle with it, according to the Cervical Cancer-Free Coalition. One of the reasons for cervical cancer is the lack of hygiene and usage of harmful alternatives to sanitary napkin (the vital reason it being not affordable for many women).
Present consumption of sanitary napkins in India is only 12.5% whereas in U.S, U.K and Europe, it falls between 75-90%. And these devastating facts seemed compelling enough for a middle class individual to take the responsibility of making India a 100% sanitary napkin using country. Arunachalam Muruganantham, an individual who busted my cryptic bubble and more importantly, revolutionized the model of affordable sanitary napkins, is the ‘David of the hour’.
Flabbergasted by the fact that his wife uses a rugged cloth instead of sanitary napkin during her menstrual days, he could not fathom the reason the giants continue to sell such a basic necessity at a price that disturbs the grocery budget of middle income Indian families. He decided to take the help of women he knew including his wife; sisters and college students, Resentment from the ladies made him the first man in the world to wear a sanitary napkin, as part of an experiment. He said “those were the worst days of my life” and consequently saluted all the ladies on the planet. Years of research by led to his invention of a machine that helps rural women to make sanitary napkins by themselves. He could have used his invention in earning a handsome sum of money; instead he gives his machines to small organizations in the rural areas free of charge.
If Arunachalam can do his bit for the community, the rationale behind our deep-rooted dependence on the infiltration of the MNCs and NGOs to do their bit, by many reasons, is unjustified. Simply acknowledging and honouring women for making strides or breaking glass ceilings is not enough. We got to work to mend the unnoticed yet vital defects, like in this context, moulding India into a 100% sanitary napkin using country. This Women’s Day, let us promise ourselves to get more involved, stay focused and uplift women in all respects.