WASH_technology_CHINTAN_ANANDI SANITARY NAPKINS
MAP-‐SA| Mainstreaming Alternative Perspectives . . . towards sustainable economies WASH Anandi Sanitary Napkins Affordable. Accessible. 100% Compostable Lead Organization: Aakar Innovations (www.aakarinnovations.com) Need Over 300 million women in India do not use sanitary pads. Dirty rags, sand and ash are all they have to get through their menstrual periods each month. The result: life threatening diseases, social isolation and high levels of school drop outs amongst adolescent girls. A woman loses close to 5 years of her productive life due to menses not just in India but also in developing countries all over the world. Response Aakar is addressing this social issue by providing rural women and adolescent girls with high quality, biodegradable sanitary pads, produced using indigenously available raw materials, at an affordable cost. Aakar supports the demand by increasing community awareness on menstrual hygiene, and creates supply by manufacturing and selling machines (to produce the pads), and managing the raw material supply chain. It supports the production units by creating marketing linkages, and assisting it with financial linkages wherever required. Drivers of the initiative • Local Economy: Aakar innovations employ women from rural regions, they also provide them livelihood opportunities, which allow them to improve their standard of living. • Value to the Customer: The Anandi sanitary napkins are a low cost sanitation solution for women. Objectives Aakar Innovations creates and promotes usage of low-‐
cost sanitary napkin with the aim to change the lives of Geographic Spread: Uttarakhand, India 60,000 women to gain access to clean pads Key Messages: It is critical to work on empowering women and creating community awareness regarding menstruation and menstrual hygiene. rural women and remove taboos associated with menstruation. Stakeholders involved Women: Involved both in the production and consumption process, women are the major stakeholders in such an initiative. They also play an important role in promoting the use of sanitary napkins and following the adequate process of disposing them. Innovative Features Aakar Innovations aims to provide affordable, biodegradable and high quality sanitary pads to rural women who currently do not have access to it. This results in severe forms of social isolation, high school dropouts and life threatening diseases. They have developed their own technology in the low-‐cost space which is highly affordable and produces pads which adhere to BIS quality standard norms. They work as a platform integrator where they sell machines to women self help groups, ensure timely availability of raw materials at low cost and best prices and also leverage their non-‐profit arm to engage extensively with the village clusters working on community awareness, capacity building of village micro entrepreneurs and ensuring last mile reach. Overcoming Barriers • Gender inequality • Lack of awareness These problems have been overcome: • With help from community doctors and key influencers, who change the existing attitudes of the makers of these sanitary napkins as well promote its usage to the community. MAP-‐SA| Mainstreaming Alternative Perspectives . . . towards sustainable economies Unresolved Bottlenecks Low usage due to lack of awareness, affordability, availability and disposal The Process Environmental Benefits • Compostable: The sanitary napkins are made out from biodegradable fibre technology. It mainly uses agri-‐wastes like banana fiber, bagasse, bamboo and water hyacinth to manufacture their product. Economic Benefits • Creates much-‐needed jobs: As the disposable incomes available to the families increase (due to direct employment, increase in efficiency and educational level and increase in local money multiplier), the local economy is benefitted. For example, if a village's income level grows, then one also sees new shops and services pop up. • Local money multiplier: The money spent on these feminine care products will circulate in the local economy (as opposed to the “big businesses” that often drain money out of the local pool). In turn, this will create a ripple effect as the money will be spent locally multiple times. Studies show that the money spent on local businesses contributes more than twice of that spent on corporate chains to local prosperity. WASH Social Benefits • Prevents pain, disease and deaths: The low cost sanitary pad, Anandi, along with awareness programs, significantly improves some of the biggest issues in Indian public health system, saving lives and preventing illness, disease and pain. • Lifts women out of poverty: The economic domino effect created by Aakar social venture will be instrumental in reducing poverty in the most underprivileged and marginalized section of our society. Economic empowerment will, in turn pave, way for social upliftment of the local communities. In long term it will result in key changes like improvement in social infrastructure, reduction in migration from village to cities etc. • Raises awareness of women's rights: Aakar social’s awareness drive will spread awareness about better menstrual hygiene among the rural women. This will also lead to increase in awareness about women’s health and other needs among the male members of the family. In medium to long term, awareness meetings will also act as a platform to discuss other women’s problems such as various health issues, domestic violence, prohibitive social customs etc. Other Benefits • Increases number of workdays: Studies reveal women usually stay at home during menstruation due to social stigma, discomfiture and usage of improper means to address the bleeding. This leads to a loss of about 50 days of employment per woman every year. Introducing Anandi to the working women in rural areas is expected to increase number of working days by at least 30 days, leading to increased income. • Reduces school drop-‐out: In rural India, one in four adolescent girls (12-‐18 years old) drop out of school after they begin menstruating because of inadequate menstrual protection like sanitary napkins. Those who stay in school, are absent about of five days each month. Among the girls using Anandi, the dropout rate goes down by 90%.