The average woman menstruates for nearly seven years of her life. What if you couldn’t go to school or work on your personal development during that time, simply because you’re ‘suffering’ from a perfectly natural female process?
In rural India, roughly one in two girls believes menstruation is a disease. The majority of adolescent girls know very little about menstruation and how to deal with it. Menstrual hygiene leaves much to be desired in rural India, with sanitary pads being largely unavailable. Instead, women and girls are forced to use unhygienic cloths that can lead to disease and even death.
During their period, girls stay at home instead of going to school and often drop out permanently. Menstruation is stigmatized and contributes to gender inequalities in rural Indian society.
The sanitary pads program
Women on Wings helps local entrepreneurs set up business units to produce and sell sanitary pads. In addition to raising awareness about the health issues associated with menstrual hygiene, the sanitary pads program creates new job opportunities by producing and selling sanitary pads.
Drawing on their experience in previous programs, Women on Wings developed a foundation to help local parties draft their own plans for a sustainable business. In doing so, Women on Wings not only creates jobs for women, as a social enterprise it makes hygienic, high-quality and environmentally-friendly products available to rural women at affordable prices.
On September 3, a collaboration agreement was signed by Aakar Innovation, SSP and Women on Wings in the presence of Dutch Minister Ploumen of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, who was in India for a Dutch trade mission. Aakar provides the necessary machinery and raw materials and trains women to operate the machines. SSP is responsible for production, marketing and sales and draws on its network of 1,000 female entrepreneurs in rural India. Stichting Charity Fund Rijsholt is the program’s financial backer.