In the village surveys conducted by our trainee CHFs in respective areas, it came out notably that menstrual hygiene and sanitation were a major concern leading to vaginal and reproductive tract infections. We recognized the need and demand for sanitary napkins. We created a plan that worked well in multiple directions namely, creating access to the product, and creating livelihood opportunity for the CHFs.
We started with setting up manual sanitary napkin units and engaged the CHFs into production and sourcing of the product, which was sold at highly discounted prices to the villagers. The product gave the villagers modest profit on sales too. Besides making and selling the napkins. the CHFs also imparted training on menstrual hygiene and proper use and disposal of sanitary napkins.
In the village of Buxar, CHFs started with manual production at the unit set up in September 2011. This unit progressed gradually into a semi-automatic unit, with a sterilization / autoclave unit. The product was named “Mesa” and was sold at half the price of branded sanitary napkins, at a nominal price of Rs. 15 per pack. The margin on sales, even at this price gave decent income to the villagers and the CHFs also promoted menstrual hygiene and prevention of related health complications for women and girls, who otherwise often miss work or school when access to hygienic products is not available.