On this GlobalGiving Bonus Day, we are excited to announce that moving forward we will be using this space to share stories highlighting individuals whose lives you have changed through your support of our Asani program.
The first of these stories is about a young woman by the name of Sejal:
Sejal is 25 years old. She is from the village of Untdi is well educated and active in her community. After receiving her degree in computer application programming, Sejal got married and her life changed.
For the next 3 years, Sejal remained at home fulfilling her duties as a housewife. She was afraid that there were no job opportunities for her in Untdi and her husband’s earnings had to support their entire household of 8 (including Sejal’s mother, in-laws, and 2-year-old son).
This year, Sejal’s life changed as she joined our Asani sales team. By taking a job which is entrepreneurial and self-managed, she is able to earn income for her family while maintaining her commitments to care for her household and family responsibilities. This job has offered her fulfillment and the ability to use her education to promote health for the women in her community.
This story was documented by Yati Desai, Special Projects Manager for the Desai Foundation. Yati has been heavily involved in a managerial role with the Asani program it's inception and is determined to help this program reach 250,000 women and girls. Her incredible career in the pharmaceutical industry gave her the opportunity to work on awareness programs about public health issues including sickle cell anemia and polio. We are so grateful for her leadership and drive to increase MHM access and awareness.
Make a contribution today and help us reach more women like Sejal.
Tess Fenn Director of Partnerships and Development
By Tess Fenn - Director of Partnerships and Development
The Asani production team smiles with new product
As we prepare for Menstrual Hygiene Day (May 28th), we are excited to share an update with our Global Giving community about our current initiatives and our progress with our new SWACHH machine. Since the purchase of this groundbreaking machine, we are pleased to report that we have improved the quality of our Asani products and have received positive initial feedback from our customers. With this machine, a new Asani technician was hired to help program the equipment and provide any maintenance support needed. Since transitioning to this upgraded machine, we are delighted that we have already been able to increase our sales team from seven to fifteen women, with each woman selling 100-200 pad packs per month.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., we have also made some progress! May 1st marked the launch of a new Desai Foundation advocacy campaign called #PledgeYourPeriod - which aims to get our U.S. community more deeply involved in supporting our work with Asani and exposing the reality of the issues around menstrual hygiene in India. Though this campaign is still underway, we have seen that this subject remains a controversial topic of discussion in the western world. The campaign encourages both men and women to share on social media why they believe this is subject is important to talk about. We have learned through this experience that a taboo still exists (in the U.S.) around openly talking about this topic. We have been affirmed that much work is still needed!
In the coming weeks, gearing up to Menstrual Hygiene Day and our 1 year Asani anniversary, we are planning events in both the U.S and India.
In New York City on May 30th, we are bringing men and women who have contributed to the #PledgeYourPeriod campaign together to share what they learned in this process and how it felt for each of them to speak publically about Menstrual Hygiene. Please let us know if you are in the area and are interested in joining us!
In India, we are holding two events in honor of MHM Day and are expecting approximately 300 women for each event. Like last year, this celebration is an important occasion for women and girls to come together from many different communities to ask questions about their periods, and learn from both medical professionals and their peers. We hope that through these events we will be able to help more women and girls to understand their bodies and rid themselves of the fear and cultural based shame around menstruation.
As we prepare for our 1 year Asani anniversary, we are humbled by all that we have accomplished this year with your support and hope that you will stay with us on our journey as we continue to spread Asani’s message in new communities throughout the year to come.
By Tess Fenn - Director of Partnerships and Development
Our Asani customers
Thanks to your support of our #PowerofaPad campaign and your investment in providing women in rural India access to menstrual health and hygiene we are excited to announce a new chapter for Asani! The funding generated from your donations has enabled us to purchase a new groundbreaking machine that will increase our production speed to 16 sanitary napkins every minute, allowing us to improve the quality of our product and simultaneously hire more women to help us serve more communities.
Throughout the past ten months, we have been humbled to watch as bit by bit more women and girls have adopted sanitary menstrual health practices through our Asani products and programs. However, we learned through listening to our users that due to the hand made nature of our pads, some of our customers were experiencing a problem with the pads bunching or the adhesive being too strong. We listened and sought out a solution to improve these issue. Thanks to your support we have now secured a cutting-edge new machine that will: create pads which are even more sanitary, eliminate the issue of bunching and use a softer gel adhesive.
Since the inception of Asani, we have taken great pride in the program's ability to provide reliable employment and job-training for women, most of whom have never had formal employment, and are happy to share that this switch will enable us to dramatically elevate our job opportunities. With more efficient production, we will now be able to scale up our sales and distribution team and hire a female engineer while maintaining our current production team. We are thrilled to be able to offer more women the opportunity to become educators, entrepreneurs and ambassadors for menstrual health and hygiene; providing more rural women and girls with the basic needs to grow and thrive.
Our team looks at this new chapter as a super-boost in chipping away at the antiquated stigma around menstruation and as we prepare for spring are excited to share that menstrual health and hygiene will now be a part of our school curriculum! As we launch these new developments for Asani... we invite you to join us as a recurring donor and train more women in the principles and practices of MHM every month!