Saukhyam Reusable Pads

A TO Z INDIA - - Inside - - Mr.Venkatesh Ra­ma­murthy, Mar­ket­ing Man­ager, Am­ri­ta­puri, Ker­ala, In­dia, e.mail: venkateshdesk@gmail.com

Reusable pads are bet­ter for your health, eas­ier on your wal­let, and bet­ter for the planet. When you choose Saukhyam Reusable Pads, you are say­ing yes to a prod­uct that is good for the body and good for our Mother Earth.It’s time to re­al­ize that in to­day’s world, it’s dis­pos­able pads that are the old-fash­ioned idea.There are now far bet­ter ways for women to go through their monthly pe­riod and come out feel­ing good, nur­tured and em­pow­ered.

THEIR STORY:

The Saukhyam jour­ney started with a quest to find a hy­gienic and af­ford­able way for ru­ral women to han­dle men­stru­a­tion with dig­nity.When Em­brac­ing the World launched the Amrita SeRVe Self-Re­liant Vil­lage project, their vol­un­teers fanned out into the field and be­gan lis­ten­ing to vil­lagers de­scribe the chal­lenges they were fac­ing.

Along the way, they re­al­ized that in­stead of cel­e­brat­ing the power of wom­an­hood, men­stru­a­tion was be­ing looked upon as a taboo sub­ject – a source of shame and a topic to be avoided.Keep­ing the topic of men­stru­a­tion in the mar­gins had led ru­ral women to choose un­hy­gienic meth­ods and had forced ado­les­cent girls to skip classes and even to drop out of school. The Saukhyam jour­ney started with a quest to find a hy­gienic and af­ford­able way for ru­ral women to han­dle men­stru­a­tion with dig­nity.

With in­spi­ra­tion and guid­ance from Amma, their team of de­sign­ers set out to de­sign af­ford­able, col­or­ful reusable pads that would ad­dress the con­cerns of ru­ral women and meet their needs. The San­skrit word Saukhyam means hap­pi­ness and well-be­ing, and they chose this name for their reusable cloth pads in part to help trans­form the topic of men­stru­a­tion from a taboo to one of nur­tur­ing and self-care.

The pads have been de­signed such that they can be eas­ily washed and dried, thereby pre­vent­ing in­fec­tion. The Saukhyam pad is de­signed to blend in eas­ily, look­ing just like a shawl or hand­ker­chief, al­low­ing women to boldly hang the pads out to dry along with other cloth­ing. Saukhyam pads last eas­ily for 3 years and do not gen­er­ate any waste. Af­ter fi­nal­iz­ing a de­sign that was em­braced by our tar­get pop­u­la­tion, the next step was to train ru­ral women to make the reusable pads. This ap­proach has a two-fold ben­e­fit. It helps women come to­gether both to de­velop more aware­ness and re­spect for who they are, and also to gen­er­ate in­come, thereby be­com­ing more self-re­liant.

Re­search has proven that women who earn their own in­come wield greater power to bring about change in their own fam­ily and in so­ci­ety as well. Fi­nally, in bring­ing the prod­uct to mar­ket, they dis­cov­ered that their unique de­sign, built to meet the needs of In­dia’s ru­ral women, is bet­ter for women every­where.

This ini­tia­tive is a project of Em­brac­ing the World, a multi-national col­lec­tive of not-for-profit or­ga­ni­za­tions ded­i­cated to work­ing for the poor and needy. They are but one strand in a broader fab­ric of hu­man­i­tar­ian ini­tia­tives.In De­cem­ber 2016,

Saukhyam Reusable Pads won the Most In­no­va­tive Prod­uct Award at the National In­sti­tute of Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment in Hy­der­abad, In­dia.

VALUE OF MENSES:

An ex­am­i­na­tion of the world’s great re­li­gious tra­di­tions re­veals that through­out his­tory and the world over, fem­i­nine qual­i­ties, far from be­ing den­i­grated, have been revered as pow­er­ful, pure and clos­est to the na­ture of the Di­vine it­self. Across those same cul­tures, the men­strual cy­cle was his­tor­i­cally seen as a sa­cred, mean­ing­ful, and im­por­tant part of life.

In the Sufi tra­di­tion, the whole uni­verse is de­scribed as the “Di­vine Womb.” The word used for “womb” here is the same as the word for com­pas­sion. It is fur­ther said that the world ex­ists, and is sus­tained, only by the power of com­pas­sion and sac­ri­fice. In an­cient times, the blood re­leased dur­ing the men­strual cy­cle was con­sid­ered to be ex­tremely spe­cial, both be­cause this is the only time the body re­leases blood with­out be­ing in­jured, and be­cause the men­strual cy­cle is syn­chro­nized with the cy­cle of the moon. In Hin­duism, it is said that all life was cre­ated by the thick­ened blood of the Di­vine Mother. The word “rit­ual” comes from the word rtu which is the word for “menses” in San­skrit.

Woman was con­sid­ered to be at the height of her power dur­ing the days of men­strual flow. She was en­cour­aged to with­draw and lis­ten within; her in­spi­ra­tion of in­ner wis­dom at this time was re­ceived with re­spect for the good of the com­mu­nity. It was in those an­cient times that cer­tain tra­di­tions were im­ple­mented in fa­vor of women dur­ing their pe­riod.

Un­for­tu­nately, over time, the orig­i­nal rea­son for these tra­di­tions was lost, yet the tra­di­tions re­mained, reimag­ined as a form of tem­po­rary ex­ile, a way to cope with the per­ceived shame and un­clean­li­ness of men­stru­a­tion. To­day, in many parts of the world, women and girls have been con­di­tioned by so­ci­ety to see men­stru­a­tion is some­thing to be ashamed of, or worse that while men­stru­at­ing, they are worth­less and un­touch­able, pol­lut­ing and curs­ing their en­vi­ron­ment dur­ing those days of the month.

Ac­cord­ing to a 2016 study con­ducted by the Tata In­sti­tute of So­cial Sciences (TISS), based on re­sponses from nearly 100,000 In­dian girls, nearly 80% of In­dian girls are not al­lowed to en­ter re­li­gious shrines when they are on their pe­riod; close to 60 % are not al­lowed to touch food in the kitchen, and ap­prox­i­mately 30 % are asked to sleep in a sep­a­rate room when men­stru­at­ing. The TISS study also found that 50 % of ado­les­cent girls were caught en­tirely by sur­prise when they first got their pe­riod; no one had pre­pared them and they had no idea that men­stru­a­tion was nor­mal and a nat­u­ral part of be­ing a fe­male. A new un­der­stand­ing of, and shift­ing at­ti­tudes to­ward, men­stru­a­tion is not just im­por­tant for achiev­ing gen­der par­ity–it is a mat­ter of life and death. It is im­per­a­tive that both men and women be­gin to re­al­ize that the fem­i­nine qual­i­ties which are based in Moth­er­hood, given by the men­strual cy­cle through the hor­mones and the cre­ative power within ev­ery woman, will only con­trib­ute pos­i­tively to so­ci­ety and help to bring gen­der equal­ity and peace. A mother has in­cred­i­ble pa­tience and can en­dure tremen­dous hard­ship while still be lov­ing and car­ing to those around her. The love, care and self-sac­ri­fice that a woman of­fers to grow and raise a hu­man be­ing

is the greatest and most self­less act of giv­ing from one to an­other.

FOR OUR­SELVES AND OUR PLANET:

The su­per ab­sorbency and the pure white of the dis­pos­able san­i­tary pads come with a price. Re­search shows that these pads con­tain su­per-ab­sorbent poly­mers mixed with bleached cel­lu­lose. Su­per­ab­sorbent poly­mers are sodium salts of poly acrylic acid, ca­pa­ble of ab­sorb­ing wa­ter, up to 30 times their weight have the side ef­fect of ab­sorb­ing mois­ture from our sen­si­tive skin, caus­ing rashes. Chlo­rine, used as a bleach­ing agent to get the pure white color, leaves dioxin residue. These car­cino­genic diox­ins are eas­ily ab­sorbable and can stay in our bod­ies for a long time, caus­ing many health prob­lems thereby poi­son­ing our im­mune and re­pro­duc­tive sys­tems. In Septem­ber 2007, the EPA (En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency) in the US an­nounced their find­ings that diox­ins are non-biodegrad­able and self-repli­cat­ing, and there­fore con­cluded that there can be no ac­cept­able tol­er­a­ble lim­its for diox­ins. Re­cent stud­ies have shown that the su­per ab­sorbent na­ture of dis­pos­able tam­pons and san­i­tary pads al­lows for the growth and ac­cu­mu­la­tion of bac­te­ria, which in some cases can lead to the life-threat­en­ing Toxic Shock Syn­drome (TSS). It’s be­com­ing in­creas­ingly clear that the alarm­ing in­crease in the num­ber of young women be­com­ing bur­dened with med­i­cal prob­lems di­rectly re­lated to chem­i­cals present in the san­i­tary nap­kins and tam­pons.

When we throw away a dis­pos­able tam­pon or pad, we sel­dom think about where it goes. The re­al­ity is we are plac­ing a very real bur­den on Mother Na­ture by pil­ing up these dis­pos­able prod­ucts in land­fills. More than 90% of a san­i­tary pad is plas­tic. From the top dri­weave layer made of polypropy­lene to the padding which con­tains su­per ab­sorbent poly­mers to the leak proof layer made of im­per­me­able poly­eth­yl­ene, these prod­ucts are fun­da­men­tally un­friendly to the en­vi­ron­ment. Com­mer­cial dis­pos­able san­i­tary prod­ucts not only pose di­rect health haz­ards to our bod­ies, af­ter dis­posal they con­sti­tute an en­vi­ron­men­tal haz­ard, a chem­i­cal cock­tail of diox­ins, fu­ran, pes­ti­cides and other en­docrine dis­rup­tors. The chem­i­cals used in pro­duc­ing san­i­tary prod­ucts get fur­ther trans­ferred be­tween soil, wa­ter and air. Ac­cord­ing to the sta­tis­tics avail­able ev­ery woman gen­er­ates 62,415 pounds of waste from dis­pos­ing san­i­tary prod­ucts alone. These prod­ucts are either in­cin­er­ated, which re­leases harm­ful gasses and toxic waste, or sent to the land­fills where they take hun­dreds of years to break down. It is up to each of us to con­sider how the prod­ucts we pur­chase, use and dis­pose im­pact our en­vi­ron­ment – the land, our wa­ter and the ocean. Each of those tam­pons and pads has an en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact –not only the prod­uct it­self, but the pack­ag­ing, plas­tic or card­board ap­pli­ca­tors. With a re­spon­si­bil­ity to pre­serve our planet for our chil­dren, mak­ing the con­scious switch to a more sus­tain­able so­lu­tion al­lows us to play our part in min­i­miz­ing the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact of an ever-grow­ing hu­man pop­u­la­tion. The men­strual cy­cle is a nat­u­ral process and is a re­minder of the unique power of women to cre­ate and sus­tain life. Let’s en­sure that the san­i­tary prod­ucts we choose sus­tain our planet, too.

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