Last week, Tanveen Ratti and Maria van der Heijden were in Varanasi to launch the Business Support Center for Sanitary Pads. Together with the UNDP, UNICEF and local organizations, they discussed and developed a concrete action plan to open this center on 1 October 2012. The key short-term issues discussed included filling the managerial vacancy and determining the location of the center.
The Business Support Center will facilitate the establishment of Sanitary Pad business units in four districts around Varanasi, namely, Mirzapur, Badhoi, Sonbhadra and Jaunpur. Key components of this center include a comprehensive production unit, a training center, accommodation and daycare facilities and the franchise headquarters of the business units. These business units will be owned by women in the community, with each unit providing 240 production and sales jobs.
Women on Wings works in collaboration with UNICEF to raise awareness and with the UNDP to empower women. The goal of Women on Wings is to share business knowledge and offer support in running a unit that employs 240 women in production and sales. Rural units can be extremely profitable if all the elements in the supply chain – from marketing to purchasing – are well-developed. Rural business units will make sanitary pads available to school girls and women, which allows girls to attend school four weeks instead of three and offers women more freedom and comfort during their monthly period. The advantages of this program are two-fold: it provides new jobs and makes a positive contribution to society.