- Young women menstruate 3,000 days in their lifetime = approximately 10 years
- 355 million women menstruate in India monthly
- Women need clean water, clean and hygienic products, and privacy to manage their period
So how do women manage their period?
- 12% of women use commercially made pads
- Remaining 88%, use the following depending on their socio-economic status – home-made pads made from old cloths and cotton; rags as pads, or as insertions; plastic sheets; ash / mud; grass / leaves
Shocked? It doesn’t end there…
- Cultural Taboos – Talk about menstruation is taboo; often times women are ashamed and are regarded unclean during their period
- Cultural Practices – Gender inequality exacerbates the problem
- Hygiene Issues – Poor hygiene leads to reproductive tract infections (RTI)
- Cost Issues – Commercial disposable pads are too expensive for most women in India
- Knowledge Gap – There is insufficient knowledge about critical hygiene factors to manage a period
- Delayed Treatment – Women are reluctant, embarrassed or cannot afford to seek treatment for RTIs, leading to chronic infections
- Long-term Implications – RTIs caused by poor menstrual management lead to chronic infections and pain, pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical cancer, infertility and sepsis
What we found?
Focus Group Discussions with 22 women in Unnao district, Uttar Pradesh revealed the following:
- Working women prefer buying expensive product that will last the entire day (over 10 hours) violating medical recommendation to change pad every 6-8 hours
- When at home, women use home made cotton pads only or in combination with disposable pads
- Women are willing to try a high-quality, durable, comfortable reusable product
- Women willing to try low-cost, good quality, comfortable disposable product (INR 1 per pad)
What the “The Pads Project” provide?
- Educate women about menstrual health and hygiene
- Address the myths and taboos around menstruation
- Teach women how to take care of themselves and their peers during the menstrual cycle and provide informal medical advise from volunteer medical staff associated with The Pads Project
- Develop an affordable reusable kit including reusable pads and cleaning supplies for a subsidized price
- Raise funds for machine from local manufacturers
- Provide women skills and training to develop reusable kits and sell them in their communities
We will keep you updated as we try and find solutions to manage the menstrual cycle with dignity, comfort and affordability for the women in our community.
Please see pictures from “The Pads Project” in our Gallery.