In 2012, Women on Wings will start a pilot production line for sanitary pads in Auroi, a village along the highway between Varanasi and Mirzapur. The market area concerns the Mirzapur district to the south of the highway. Experts Lieve Declercq and Claudia Busch were asked to identify the market in the area.
Lieve: “In November, we visited four villages with Sadhana from the Business Support Centre (BSC) in order to contact women and girls. Sadhana began the meeting by providing a comprehensive and interactive presentation about menstruation and the use of sanitary pads. Through her we were then able to ask our questions about their knowledge and experience of menstruation and sanitary pads. “The experts also visited a high school, enabling them to reach about 350 girls aged 12 to 18 in one go. Claudia: “It was very interesting to see how girls of that age think about this subject.” The experts indicate that women and girls have very little idea of what menstruation actually is. There is very little information passed from mother to daughter. And the subject doesn’t come up at school either. Girls are more ‘modern’ thanks to their education and TV programs and attempt to influence their mothers to use sanitary pads rather than strips of material. Lieve: “Yet, only 10% of the women and girls in this region actually use sanitary pads.”
Lieve and Claudia visited a variety of small shops along the highway to talk with the owners about products, purchasing, margins, customers and uses. Lieve: “This helped us to get a good idea of the distribution channels. Sanitary pads are available to buy in these shops. However, there are simply no shops in the villages in the countryside and the women very seldom leave the village if at all.” Claudia: “We showed various products in both the villages and at the school and we noted the reactions to, for example, packaging and color, so that we can adjust our own product design. Just as in the Netherlands, women and girls aren’t exactly happy about walking through the streets holding a pack of sanitary pads. So they will be first wrapped carefully in paper and then put into a plastic bag.” Something that made an impression on both experts was a comment made by a teacher about girls who have their period: “They come well managed to school”.