Problem Addressed

India has a culture of silence around menstruation, which has led to significant health risks for women. Over 200 million women in India are uneducated about safe menstrual hygiene practices and what constitutes a normal and healthy period. In these circumstances, poor menstrual hygiene practices have serious detrimental effects on education and health outcomes for girls and women. It is estimated that 88% of menstruating women in India use home-grown alternatives to sanitary pads, like old fabric, rags, sand, ash, wood shavings, newspapers, dried leaves, hay, and plastic.

The most effective strategies to manage this issue are those that engage community members, train key stakeholders and develop peer leaders. There is a sufficient demand that is not being met for locally produced sanitary napkins, which can be good substitutes for commercially produced sanitary pads.

Innovative Approach

KGNMT’s model delivers menstrual hygiene awareness through a training curriculum in partnership with hard-to-reach groups to achieve maximum reach. KGNMT’s model leverages government health workers and existing community groups for education about MHM and distribution of napkins in rural areas. Their production machine will also serve as a livelihood opportunity for local people who make these napkins.

Program Solution

Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust (KGNMT) believes that if women and girls are provided with information about their body, health and hygienic menstrual practices, along with access to low-cost sanitary napkins, then they will be able to adopt safe menstruation practices and lead healthier lives.

In order to address the low usage of sanitary napkins in rural and poor urban communities, KGNMT leads awareness sessions about the body, menstrual hygiene related health issues, and safe menstrual practices in low-income schools and slums for girls aged 12-18 years, and in self-help groups (SHGs) for women over 20 years old. KGNMT educates workers in rural health care facilities (“Anganwadis”) and supervisors and child development protection officers (CDPOs) in hard to reach rural areas to promote the use of sanitary napkins. To date, KGNMT has reached out to 900 school going girls and 375 girls in urban slum communities. Additionally, 1500 Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) workers have received one-day trainings across 4 blocks of Rangareddy district, Andhra Pradesh.

Due to the lack of availability of low-cost sanitary napkins, KGNMT is in the process of developing a manufacturing unit that will produce quality napkins at a reasonable cost. With a capacity of producing approximately 1,400 napkins per hour, KGNMT’s machine will significantly reduce the price of each napkin and also will be able to meet a greater demand.These napkins will be sold to women in urban and rural communities through local health workers at a highly subsidized cost, and additional production machines will be sold to local self-help groups (SHGs) and school communities to help them meet local demand.

Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust (KGNMT)

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Partners: KGNMT works closely with the government, partnering with the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) for various health related initiatives, such as the Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (SABLA).

Location:  Andhra Pradesh,