A sustainable space for widows in rural Andhra Pradesh, India


Sanitary Napkin Manufacturing

Only 10% of women in India use sanitary napkins (2011, AC Nielsen) and instead often use bits of old cloth or saris to manage their menses. Due to embarrassment, these cloths are rarely cleaned and sanitized and have been reported to increase the risk of disease in the reproductive track. In addition to the issue of sanitation and health risks, not having a convenient solution for dealing with menses interferes with women’s ability to work and go to school during their menstrual cycles.

As an organization that hopes to improve the status of women in rural Andhra Pradesh, SHELTER believes that employing widows to manufacture affordable sanitary napkins and improving education around the issue of feminine hygiene will have a wide and positive reach into the communities of rural Andhra Pradesh. Not only will widows earn a competitive wage in a safe, consistent, and supportive work environment, women and school girls will have the opportunity to improve their lives and health through the ability to purchase low-cost sanitary napkins.

Because sanitary napkins currently do not have a high rate of use in our target area, SHELTER will launch the program with a series of health fairs and educational events lead by a group of graduate students from Pacific University, in Forest Grove, Oregon and our Community Health Workers from our partner organization in Andhra Pradesh, Bharati Integrated Rural Development Society (BIRDS).

For more information on feminine hygiene in India and the use of sanitary napkins, please see the following links:

BBC 2014: “The Indian sanitary pad revolutionary”

Women at a health fair examining Shelter's product

Women at a health fair examining Shelter’s product