Towards low-cost sanitary napkins
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30 May 2012
Vinobha K T
Mangalore: While multi–national companies like Johnson and Johnson and others succeeded in marketing sanitary napkins with huge capital in hand, here is a micro interior village in Dakshina Kannada district, which wrote the success saga by setting up a unit with the power of women.
Laila gram panchayat in the district earned the fame by producing and marketing sanitary napkins that has the capacity to compete with multi–national products in the market with meager funds.
Women in the village joined hands and started a sanitary napkin production unit with the help of the gram panchayat and zilla panchayat. 'Safety – Feel Free', the low cost sanitary napkins manufactured by women in Laila, has already been well accepted in the rural markets and now the gram panchayat is in the expansion path to meet the increasing demand from many government sectors.
District total sanitation officer Manjula says that the gram panchayat has received a bulk order of 10,000 packs of Safety – Feel Free napkins from the zilla panchayat to distribute it among students of seventh and eighth standards in the district as part of the state government's Kishori scheme, which aims at solving menstruation–related issues of girls. Napkins will be distributed to schools in the beginning of June, she adds.
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) district unit has already earmarked Rs 1,23,000 to purchase sanitary napkins from Laila gram panchayat. They have plans to distribute napkins to 2,241 students in Bantwal, 2,006 students in Belthangady, 355 students in Mangalore City, 1,656 students in Mangalore Rural, 556 students in Moodbidri, 2,215 students in Puttur and 1,021 students in Sullia taluk.
Meanwhile, government hospitals in the district too have decided to include sanitary napkin manufactured by the gram panchayat in the Madilu kit, which is being distributed to women during delivery at government hospitals. With the increase in the demand the gram panchayat is now thinking of increasing the production capacity as they have to supply napkins routinely to schools and hospitals.
"Currently we have only six women working in our unit and they have the capacity to produce 350–400 napkins per day. We will have to set up one more unit and appoint more staff to increasing the production. Very soon, we will take decision to increase the production capacity," says Manjula.
The gram panchayat had set up the sanitary napkin unit spending Rs 7.33 lakh in 2011. They had received Rs 4.33 lakh from National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). The gram panchayat had sent a team of women members of Isiri Self–Help Group for training at Kaveri Matha Trust of Piriyapatna, she said.
Safety–feel free is produced using cotton derived from wood pulp (cellulose fibres), which is safe. The napkin has the capacity to absorb the liquid within no seconds and it can hold it for long time too, she adds.
The innovation of Laila gram panchayat also paved way for the zilla panchayat to think of introducing incinerators to burn the used napkins inside toilets in schools.
'SAFETY –FEEL FREE': low cost sanitary napkins manufactured by women in Laila village in Belthangadi taluk, Dakshina Kannada district