An organization working to shape the world for woman by providing them a sustainable solution to the issue heard but unheard – Menstruation. Menstruation, also known as periods or menses and it is called as “MAHAWARI” in Hindi. The word “menses” comes from the Latin menstruails, meaning “monthly”, especially of or having monthly courses. It is the discharge of blood and mucosal tissue from the inner lining of the uterus through the vagina.
Paula Hillard, M.D., professor of obstetrics & gynecology and pediatrics at the University Of Cincinnati College Of Medicine, said “The menstrual cycle is a window into the general health and well-being of women, and not just a reproductive event.”
According to a study conducted by AC Nielsen, around 300 million women in India rely on old rags, plastics, sand, and ash to address their sanitation needs during their menstrual cycle. These unsterilized and often unclean methods result in various urinary tract diseases, cervical cancers and labor complications, which claim thousands of lives each year. Research has proven that apart from these possibly fatal diseases, menstruation is also the cause for 23% of girls dropping out of school once they attain puberty. Lack of awareness of menstrual management and un-affordable options in the market (70% of Indian families cannot afford costly napkin pads) – have limited the choices women in rural areas and urban slums can make on management of menstrual issues. With a population of 300 million women lacking access to menstrual hygiene products, and existing brands unable to sell in rural areas due to low profitability and awareness, the opportunity for setting up village level micro-enterprise model is high and results in localized availability, accessibility and awareness.
Jaydeep Mandal, founder of the organization “Aakar Innovations” understood the need of hour and came up with a brilliant model, which provides an end to end solution to the issues of menstruation. Aakar Innovations, a hybrid social enterprise to ensure women’s access to affordable menstrual hygiene products in rural areas and urban slums while creating livelihood opportunities. They developed a low cost sanitary napkin making machine (patented internationally) and produce biodegradable sanitary napkin from indigenous agri-wastes and raw material.
Currently, they have 25 operational units running across different parts of India. They are working with various alliances including Ngos, Govt and other individuals, who want to run an enterprise and make women feel empowered by running their own enterprise. From last five months I am working with Aakar and for me it’s a way of life because I am also a woman who menstruates every month and felt and understood the process and have gone through all the taboos that are there in society. I feel proud that there are people who are working with sheer determination to make women feel not only comfortable but also make them feel proud that they menstruate.
Aakar for me is – “shaping the world for women where a woman works for women”.