On a quest to ‘Making periods normal’

Last April, Women on Wings did research on identifying local partners for a new Sanitary Pads program in Bihar. In Patna, Danapur and Munger, Ronald van het Hof, MD Women on Wings India, and Adrianne Jonquière, program manager ‘Making periods normal’, discussed partnerships with three different local organizations, NEED, Jeevika and SEWA. These partners all have a good local network of women and girls.

Three years’ program
The National Postcode Lottery supports a new program by Simavi, Rutgers WPF and Women on Wings to improve awareness and availability of sanitary pads in Bihar. The program will start on June 1, 2014 and has duration of at least 3 years. Based on its experience in India, Women on Wings has developed a business model with a view to producing and distributing sanitary pads at local level.

Girls and their dreams
Jeevika impresses by its professional, well managed organization. Jeevika has the network and skills needed to pull off the job of production, sales & distribution. NEED organized an interaction workshop with girls. The younger girls are very ambitious and want to become doctor, pilot, lawyer and teacher. These girls go to school through a program of NEED.

Improving menstrual health
SEWA showed their incense stick factories. Remarks of the women made clear that the importance of taking good care of your menstrual hygiene has not kicked in yet. Money is spent on phones and beauty products, not on menstrual products. This again proves the need for the program. It starts with awareness, then experiencing before it becomes a way of life.

Business model
Simavi and Rutgers WPF have experience in creating awareness and providing information on physical development and personal hygiene. Good information creates awareness. Maria van der Heijden, co-founder Women on Wings: “This then boosts demand for sanitary pads. A solid business model creates small profitable businesses that have their production and distribution up to par. It also helps generate employment for a group of women in India in the production, distribution and sale of sanitary pads.” In this way, creating demand and making available a hygienic solution go hand in hand.