Saathi Combats Period Poverty with Sustainable Materials
COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in deepening many social divides and has set us back by many decades. Already, only 18% of India’s menstruators have access to sanitary napkins? With COVID-19, the number of women with access to sanitary pads has gone down drastically and this period poverty is saddening.
In some cases due to lack of work, food has now become a priority. During times like this, menstrual health of women is relegated to the background. Poor menstrual hygiene results in fungal and bacterial infections in the reproductive and urinary tract. It also makes women at higher risk of Hepatitis B and cervical cancer. Furthermore, lack of options for managing periods affects both physical and mental health of the menstruator resulting in shame, causing lack of confidence.
In India, most female school children from rural areas get access to sanitary pads mainly from their schools. With schools shutting down indefinitely because of COVID-19, coupled with the inability to move freely, it has been extremely difficult for women to get sanitary napkins. This has resulted in the increase in practicing unhygienic methods like filling up socks with sand and tying them around their waists in the hope that it will absorb menstrual blood, using old pieces of cloth, reusing the same material, and using dried leaves, newspapers among others.
To overcome this problem, Saathi, a sustainable consumers product company has worked to addressing the issue of lack of access to sanitary pads while also ensuring that no new plastic waste is generated in the process. This year, when India celebrates 72nd Republic Day, Saathi and Dori Sakhi joined hands together in a bid to combat this period poverty. Through a Sawastha Sakhi (Healthy Friend) programme, biodegradable sanitary pads were distributed in Chennai at Central Railway Station and Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital. A record breaking number of sustainable sanitary pads were distributed during the event.
The Chief Guest of the event was Mr. Gauri Shankar Rathi. The Asia Head of Golden Book of World Records, Dr. Manish Bishnoi joined others members from Saathi and Dori Sakhi in the event. The event was supported by Rajasthan Patrika (Chennai). The event followed all COVID-19 safety norms and a total of 20,000 sanitary pads were distributed in the course of the entire day, along with raising awareness on women’s health.