Poor waste disposal and unsafe menstrual practices remain two of India’s biggest challenges to tackle. Many have tried and a lot has been done on the issue, yet the reality of the situation remains a serious health and safety hazard for India’s entire population. Hailing from the small village of Pilgao in rural Goa, a team of housewives are taking a swipe at tackling the crisis by manufacturing and selling low-cost, biodegradable sanitary pads from their homes.
Collectively, these women make up Saheli, a self-help group founded by Jayashree Parwar in 2015 who took up the challenge of tackling poor sanitary disposal in her local area of Goa’s Bicholim district. The group’s product, branded under the name ‘Sakhi,’ is a sanitary napkin made of non-harming natural materials such as pine wood paper, silicon paper and butter paper. They can be decomposed within eight days when buried in the ground. One packet contains eight pads and approximately half a US dollar.
India’s Sanitray Challenge
Many women and girls across India continue to adopt unsafe and unhygienic menstrual practices. Some do it because they don’t know any better, while others do it because they do know better, but can’t afford to do better.
For the country as a whole, this is a serious crisis. Sanitary waste disposal is not merely a waste management issue, it’s a health and human rights issue that affects the entire country. As there is currently no standardised method of sustainable sanitary waste disposal, every menstrual product disposed of contributes to either soil, air or water contamination and affects each person (men and women) in some way. Clean India Journal estimates that 9,000 tonnes of sanitary waste (432 million pads) is generated annually in India, 80% of which ends up flushed down a toilet or dumped in a landfill.
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