Name- Gauri Agrawal
Course- Bachelor’s in Journalism and Mass communication (1ST year)
College- University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun, Uttarakhand
MANUFACTURING SANITARY NAPKINS FOR EASIER SUPPLY OF MENSTRUAL NEEDS
I as a young girl contributed to the society by manufacturing sanitary napkins with my team members back in my school. I did my schooling from Scindia Kanya Vidyalaya, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. The institution initiated a project called SANKALP- a Sanskrit word which means “resolution”. I am really fortunate to be a part of this project and enhanced my skill sets.
WHAT IS SANKALP?
SANKALP is an initiative by Scindia Kanya Vidyalaya to manufacture sanitary napkins and distribute it to women in the nearby village called JARGA at low cost. The project has blurred the distinction, erased the essence “stigmatized periods” and drove people to accept it as a blessing through Nukkad Natak, speech, awareness programme, educated them about the use and disposal of the napkins. Sankalp is a Sanskrit word means- resolution taken by SKV to regain the importance of menstruation. Its first unit was setup in Jarga.
(The below mentioned data has been displayed in reference with the Skv Sankalp website)
Research: Over a 15-month period, students conducted research and surveys to identify the potential need for intervention. Their data showed that a large portion of the population of Gwalior live in slums, with no access to basic amenities such as water and sanitation. Students were also able to identify that many women also face challenges accessing sanitary pads: male-run medical stores, un-affordable costs and stigma and shame associated with menstruation.
Stigma around menstruation is a major cause of gender inequality in poor communities. A lack of access to sanitary products and private toilets, and feelings of shame and embarrassment about periods, cause millions of girls and women to miss school and work, raising the risk of them dropping out completely.
Typically, women resort to using alternate sanitary solutions such as old rags, sand, sawdust, leaves and even ash.
Manufacturing and resources:
Students applied themselves to finding a way to supply proper sanitary pads to the underprivileged women of one village. After intense brain storming, they identified a low-cost sanitary napkin manufacturing unit where sanitary pads are made from banana fiber and gel cotton which are biodegradable and can be manufactured by students with minimal training. The compact machines are about the size of a student’s study desk. The process begins with tearing the raw-cotton sheets and mixing with binding cotton in a mixer jar. The material is weighed and 12 grams of material is portioned into moulds which are compressed under an air-powered stamp. After inserting a water-proof strip, this initial napkin is sealed into absorbent tissue-cloth. An adhesive is applied and covered with a strip of oil-paper which can be stripped off to set the napkin in place. A maternity version with longer ‘tails’ is also being manufactured.
At the end of the assembly line, the napkin is sterilized in a UV chamber. Sets of eight napkins are packed together with cling-film and are ready for distribution.
Due to its low cost many hospitals, NGOs and Missions have approached the school expressed interest in purchasing the student made pads. To meet demand, the commerce students developed a Business Model Summary to recreate the process within the village to be run by local women.
Pads produced by the students aren’t just benefiting local women, but those in need all across the region
In 2014 students united to make 2000 napkins for women affected by the floods in Kashmir. During the Nepal Earthquake also students sent sanitary napkins along with other relief material. In 2018, when the southern state of Kerala was struck by floods, the school set up work shifts to produce 6000 napkins in 48 hours.
Though SKV is an girls school, SKV encourages students of both sexes to perform ‘shramdaan’ (service by labor) and to develop a spirit of servant leadership. Boys and girls of many schools in the country and abroad, sign up for the ‘shramdaan’ during Youth Festivals at SKV.
(The above-mentioned data is with the reference of Skv Sankalp website)
THE HURDLES WE HAD TO CROSS:
The women of Jarga were to shy and hesitant to attend sessions, come out to gain knowledge through nukkad natak and various plays conducted by our school which were initiated to spread awareness and make them understand about menstruation. Elderly people tried to pull our socks and stating the existing culture and taboos in their region and community.
Women who were too shy now describes the manufacturing process to various visitors in our school and has helped everyone contributed in this project build strong opinions on stigma lined up from ages. It is very difficult to raise a issue in a region where people with strong biased views on menstruation lives. But it a successful project and have been awarded for its start-up.
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