Lata is a nineteen-year old girl. The only thing she dreads more than her upcoming exams is the onset of her periods. Messy clothes, foul odour, and her mother’s anxious glance, each time she steps out of her modest house are few of the innumerable problems she has to battle every month. Such is the miserable state of several other menstruating girls and women in the urban slum areas of Delhi NCR. About 43% of women in India still do not have access to something as basic and essential as sanitary napkins.
Project Aarogya by CDF SRCC is based on the issue of using sanitary napkins during menstruation. Various researchers have concluded that the usage of cloth or low-quality sanitary napkins can cause dangerous chronic reproductive diseases such as fungal infections, reproductive tract infections, and urinary tract infections which may also lead to cervical cancer.
So we, as members of Connecting Dreams Foundation-SRCC Chapter, have conducted surveys in urban slums of Delhi NCR for the past five months- which included one on one interactions with a lot of women in areas like Shastri Park, Lalbagh, Mukundpur and JJ Colony. After talking to these women, CDF SRCC realized that they face a number of difficulties in buying sanitary napkins. High cost, poor quality of available pads, erratic supply of pads, lack of awareness and medical stores near their locality top the list. Apart from these reasons, it is shocking to see that women still feel shy to go and buy sanitary napkins or even mention anything related to menstruation in their homes. This is because of the number of myths and social taboos which revolve around menstruation in our country. Sometimes, even women who use sanitary napkins switch to cloth due to lack of easy access and dissatisfaction with quality. CDF decided to mend the broken supply chain of good quality and low cost sanitary napkins in such deprived areas. The social impact which the students aim to create is immense. Not only do they plan to benefit menstruating women by addressing issues related to this monthly visitor but also choose a few women in each area and turn them into entrepreneurs.
Project Aarogya is aimed to make these women entrepreneurs act as a potential link to reach each and every member of their community. CDF would be supplying sanitary napkins to them at 30-50% less than the market price and they will further sell it to the women in their community at a margin thus, helping these previously unemployed women become entrepreneurs and earn a substantial living.
Furthermore, this method would enable women of these communities bid farewell to shyness and would also encourage them to buy sanitary napkins regularly.
These beautiful women with whom we have been continuously interacting for a number of months now believe that cleanliness is next to godliness.
“ Hum chahte hai ki mere aas pados ki sabhi auratein humari tarah apna soch badle aur swayam ki swacchta ki humesha soche, pads khareedke istemaal karna shuru karein” says Taapsee, a woman residing in Shastri Park. To make them fully conscious of diseases caused and disadvantages due to cloth usage, the members of this project have decided to adopt various appealing and suitable marketing techniques like nukkad nataks, surveys, posters, awareness camps by doctors, advertisements, games, one on one interactions, and so on.
Through Project Aarogya, we aim to achieve the 4A’s- Awareness, Availability, Affordability and Accessibility. Making women self-sufficient via empowerment and social upliftment in the urban slums and villages in and around Delhi NCR is the project’s main priority. We simultaneously aim at benefiting them by providing solutions to crucial issues related to usage and availability of affordable sanitary napkins. Ultimately more than 10,000 women are expected to benefit by this social business model.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Thus, CDF is proud and extremely glad to implement Project Aarogya in the slum area of Shastri Park and the Kamal Vihar area of Mukundpur.
Financial help is required for our initiative. Our crowdfunding campaign is running on RISE Fundraiser platform: http://bit.ly/CDFAarogya. Every small contribution counts. Become a part of our endeavour to touch hundreds of such lives!