Considered taboo in many parts of the world, menstrual hygiene was a subject ridden with many myths and misconceptions, especially in a country like India. Arunachalam Muruganantham (Muruganantham), was the man who had revolutionised female sanitary hygiene and had created a lasting impact on the health and livelihood of women, mostly in rural India. With his pioneering and patented invention of a low cost sanitary pad making machine, Muruganantham had a vision to make India a ‘100% sanitary napkin using country.’
A majority of the Indian women adopted unhygienic methods during their periods, increasing the incidence of reproductive tract infection and cervical cancer. Through hard work and perseverance, Muruganantham had popularised his invention not only in India but also internationally. In doing so, he chose to market his machine mainly to NGOs and Self Help Groups (SHGs), who in turn employed women to manufacture the low-cost napkins. Operated in a totally self sustaining manner, this direct selling model provided employment opportunities to rural women, who also spread awareness about the importance of menstrual hygiene.
In taking his project forward, Muruganantham faced competition from other NGOs who were operating in this field and from multinationals who had launched lower cost brands. Also, the Government, which had a key role to play in impacting female hygiene, did not seem too encouraging of the SHGs. With awareness levels abysmally low and response to sanitary napkin usage quite discouraging, would Muruganantham be able to realise his vision to make India a ‘100% sanitary napkin using country’?
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