By Vishakha Sharma
Posted On Monday, July 12, 2010 at 11:31:36 PM
In a country which sees lakhs of people living below the poverty line, menstruation is a harbinger of shame for women who try to make ends meet.
Where people cannot afford two square meals, buying sanitary napkins from the market is out of the question. So does this mean that such women will have to be relegated to dark corners of their shanties during those difficult days?
Not any more. Goonj, a Delhi-based NGO, has come to the rescue of such women with their re-usable cloth napkins, which are sourced from clothes donated by those who are better off than the beneficiaries.
A packed of five such napkins is available for just Rs 3.
Goonj works across 11 states in India, including Maharashtra and has been functional for over five years now. And more importantly, many college students, from educational institutes like the IITs, work with the NGO in its endeavour.
Talking to Mirror, founder of Goonj, Anshu Gupta, said, “The organisation is over five years old with over 300 volunteers.
The main reason behind the production of these sanitary napkins is to end the troubles of poor women during their difficult days.
Also, since these women are from the lower strata of society, they can’t afford sanitary napkins that are available in the market. To ensure comfort and hygiene, we decided to make these napkins cost effective. Each packet containing five napkins costs Rs 3.”
Gupta added, “The production process is easily replicable in any part of India or the world. We conduct village-level meetings to bring the tabooed subject out in the open.
Women now comfortably talk about the subject. The napkins are handmade, without any technological input. We employ women from nearby slums for the purpose.”
Sahiba from Muzaffarnagar: I have been facing a shortage of clothes to be used during my periods. When we don’t have clothing to cover our bodies, how can we afford to spare cloth for use during menstruation?
I was therefore left with no other option but to use nothing during my periods, which led to spoiling of my clothes with bloodstains.
I remained closeted inside the house during the entire menstrual cycle, as I used to feel ashamed to venture outside.
But my mother used to understand my problem. Many times, others humiliated me because of the bloodstains on my shirt. Now, my life has completely changed after Goonj distributed the sanitary napkins.
I am grateful to Goonj for this. Several girls like me face similar problems, but they have no option. Goonj is like a godsend for girls like us.
Shalu from Saharanpur: Two-three days before my periods started, I’d feel anxious, thinking what to use during this time.
I had nothing with me, except for a little terricot cloth. In school, some of my friends buy sanitary pads from the market. But I can’t do so as my parents are very poor.
My father is a tangewala and his income is also very low. I have spoilt everything from pillow covers to bedsheets and was even beaten up by my mother for that.
When I asked my classmate for pads, she said, “These are not for free. They are expensive, and I get them from the market. How can I give them to you for free?”
When I was sharing my experience in a meeting, my friends told me to approach Goonj.
What we take for granted…..if these women cannot afford menstrual cloths how can they possible afford birth control?