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Indian Women Address Health Hazard

Agence France-Presse (AFP) recently reported that a Delhi-based nonprofit is working with women in India to produce sanitary pads. Millions of Indian women who cannot afford store-bought sanitary pads often rely on dirty rags, strips of old clothes, or nothing at all while they”re menstruating, putting their lives at risk, aid workers say.

“The solution to a major health hazard that afflicts our entire nation is as simple as providing clean cloth,” Anshu Gupta, the head of the nonprofit Goonj told The Hindu. His organization helps women’s village committees purchase machines that make sterile pads out of recycled clothing. In India, where a fifth of the population lives on 25 cents or less a day, eight store-bought pads cost $1.50. The pads produced by Goonj cost just a few cents and are free of charge to those who cannot pay.

“We’re not looking to become a manufacturer of sanitary napkins,” Gupta told AFP. “We want to start a movement so they do it themselves and we put in some good practices like drying cloths in sunlight and changing more frequently.”

Unhygienic conditions–a lack of sanitary pads, private toilets and water for hand-washing–put millions of women and girls globally at risk for disease and infection and prevent them from staying in school. In sub-Saharan Africa, an estimated 10 percent of girls drop out of school when they begin menstruation, according to the Women’s Environment and Development Organization.

Sources:

AFP 10/7/07; The Hindu (India) 8/28/05; Untapped Connections: Gender, Water and Poverty, Women�s Environment and Development Organization, 1/03

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