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Changing Lives: Odisha sees Napkin as Key to Women's Health and Empowerment

 

Posted Monday June 09, 2014

Odisha, Health, Hygiene, Sanitary Napkin, Women, Cuttack  
 

Odisha government and its rural marketing agency ORMAS hope that the project of producing low cost sanitary napkins, initially implemented in Tigiria block of Cuttack, would bring a change in the lives of women in rural Odisha while empowering them by involving in the economic activities of producing sanitary napkins.

 
Binita Jaiswal  
 

In order to promote good sanitation practices amongst women in rural and slum areas, the Cuttack district administration of Odisha has come up with a novel idea which can help in improving personal hygiene of women and at the same time help Self Help Groups (SHGs) earn profits out of it. The administration has launched an ambitious project to manufacture low cost sanitary napkins.

In partnership with the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), Cuttack district administration has set up a low-cost sanitary napkin production unit in Tigiria block. Maa Tarini SHG Federation of the said block has been selected for the purpose. Twenty members of the group have been trained by experts in the craft of making napkins and they are to start production soon.

 

“We have already procured the tools and machinery required for the unit and the workforce is also ready. Within next 15 days the SHG will start manufacturing sanitary napkin,” said Bipin Rout, chief executive of the executing agency ORMAS (Odisha Rural development and Marketing society). On a pilot basis, the unit has been set up in Tigiria which, after assessment of its success, would be extended to other blocks of the district and other parts of Odisha as well in later phases. The unit will produce over 1000 napkins in a day. The napkins will be provided to the women at an affordable price and would cost almost half of the price of branded products of similar quality available in the market.

Along with technical guidance, administration has also provided training to the SHG members to market their product among the target group. “Majority of women in the rural and slum areas do not adopt hygiene practices during their menstrual cycles and thereby are vulnerable to many diseases. The SHG has been trained to market their product while creating awareness among the women folks about the menstrual hygiene practices,” said a district official. The SHG members will be actively involved in creating awareness among the rural and slum women about the significance of personal hygiene and would advocate the use of sanitary napkin for better menstrual health besides marketing their product.

“The initiative will ensure affordability and accessibility of sanitary napkin in the most interior areas and will also help empowering women. A member involved in the work would be able to earn more than Rs.2000 a month,” added Rout.

[Binita Jaiswal is a Journalist from Odisha and is a media fellow of National Foundation for India (NFI). This article is written as part of the NFI fellowship programme]

 
 

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