Fighting an outside enemy sometimes seems far easier than fighting age old customs and misconceptions. Members of two Women SHGs, Radharani Nidan Mahila Samuh and Saraswati Nidan Mahila Samuh in Baliapur block in Dhanbad, Jharkhand have been pioneering menstrual health and hygiene by takingup the challenge of creating awareness about hygiene as also changing the attitude towards use of sanitary pads among the rural women. Notjust advocatinghealthierhabits, these women got together to work on providing the healthier alternative. They have been rightly nicknamed 'Padwomen'
Production of low cost sanitary napkins in Baliapur block in Dhanbad District of Jharkhand.
The women were provided training locally by NABARD and NIDAN, an NGO, which has provided the necessary hand holding to these WSHGs. The raw material are procured both locally (Gobindpur ) and from Kolkata (West Bengal). The low cost sanitary pads are being sold locally in the rural areas, rural mart, marketing fairs, etc. The WSHGs have availed loan of Rs.0.70 lakh from UCO Bank and Bank of India.
Income - Rs.0.40 lakh per WSHG
The activity has provided employment to 40 women. Besides creating awareness about use of sanitary pads for menstrual hygiene, the members of the WSHGs make the low cost sanitary pads locally in their villages which has provided them a livelihood option too. After attending to their daily household chores, each member of the WSHGs earn about Rs.0.02 lakh per month from making sanitary napkins due to which their standard of living has improved. There is a demand from other rural areas of the district to promote this activity which could revolutionise attitude towards women's health and hygiene in the area. State Government of Jharkhand had decided to promote low cost sanitary napkin making units by WSHGs in entire State which would be supplied to all girl schools and health centres. Income generation and promotion of a critical social cause like women's health for a vulnerable segment of the society can be achieved simultaneously through awareness creation. WSHGs themselves provide a captive market for products through inter-WSHG sale and purchase.
Source : Creating Livelihoods, Changing Lives