Saukhyam Reusable Pads
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.
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.