Goonj uses under-utilized cloth and other old material as a powerful and proven tool for social change, a resource for rural/slum development and a valuable asset for income generation. Following from this model, Goonj started using recycled, processed, and cleaned cotton cloth to produce sanitary pads called ‘MY Pads’. These pads are distributed in mostly rural and remote parts of India where menstruation is still a taboo. The pads are distributed to young girls and women who can’t afford to buy or use any other safe and hygienic alternative.
The program’s objective has always been to use these MY Pads as a tool to initiate dialogue on the subject of menstrual hygiene and create awareness around healthy practices. In the last few years, Goonj has been able to create and distribute over 30 lakh (3 million) MY Pads across India (more than 2 meters of shredded cloth is used to make a pack of 5 MY Pads which means that more than 6 lakh sq. meter discarded cloth put to use). In the year 2012-13, more than 3 Lakh napkins were dispatched (i.e more than 60 thousand packets having 5 napkins in each).
Annually, Goonj processes over 1,000 tons of old recyclable material. This includes cotton cloth from cities; bed sheets, salwar-kamizes, cotton t-shirts, etc. that the cities out-grow. Tons of cloth flows from all over India to make this model efficient and sustainable. Apart from the monetary value MY Pads also save huge volume of cloth from landfills.
The primary channels of distribution are through Goonj’s existing grassroots partners and through its Cloth for Work program in which beneficiaries are given the napkins as a reward for contributing time and labor to their community’s development work, such as building village wells, bamboo bridges, and small irrigation canals. Goonj has a strong network spread over 21 states. It works in partnership with over 250 grassroots organizations, Ashoka Fellows, social activists, units of the Indian army and social movements.
Goonj’s field team along with the local partners travel across villages to counsel women and adolescent girls in schools and communities on menstrual management. Issues such as best practices on how to wash and dry in the sun, right material usage, and addressing issues around superstitions, suppression, and lack of viable solutions are all discussed.
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Partners: Goonj works with over 250 grassroots organizations in 21 States of India. NJPC is working mainly in Bihar and Uttarakhand, where they are doing direct implementation, while in other states like West Bengal and Odisha they are working with partners.