Since the launch of the project in Maharashtra, the Desai Foundation has been training and employing women for the production and distribution of Asani Sanitary Napkins. Currently, a total of 8 women are working in the production unit. These women are from the target and neighboring villages in the Nanded district. The training for women and girls on sales and distribution is on-going. In just two months, these women were able to produce 114,000 pads (14,250 packets), which are being distributed in the communities. We are proud that this program is meeting our expectations and impacting the lives of many in rural Maharashtra.
In partnership with local community organizations, The Desai Foundation provided menstrual hygiene education to women in Baruch and Valsad districts in Gujarat, India. Through our various programs, women and girls in rural areas were able to learn about menstruation, ranging from what are menstruation cycles, to the proper use of menstrual hygiene products. In total, we were able to conduct awareness sessions for over 3500 women and girls living in these two districts. We also provided training to over 100 women on ways to distribute sanitary pads and disseminate information on menstrual hygiene and management in their respective communities. By conducting such training sessions, we strive to eradicate stigmas surrounding menstruation in remote, rural regions of India.
The Asani Sanitary Napkin program is a monumental step in addressing and providing solutions to eradicate the stigma surrounding menstruation in India. Our footprint was made a bit larger this year, as we expanded our facilities to Bharuch, a district in Southern Gujarat of nearly 370,000. In 2019, we are furthering our reach to the women and girls in other rural communities in Rajasthan and Maharastra.
In 2018 alone, Asani was able to produce over 750,000 sanitary napkins, ensuring easy access to quality sanitary products to 12,000 women and girls in rural Gujarat. We are beyond excited about the progress our program has made, thanks to contributions from our donors, hard work from our team and acceptance from the women in our target communities.
We are excited to inform our Global Giving Community that on March 8th, 2019, we installed a sanitary napkin vending machine in the girl’s bathroom of our school in Untdi, Valsad district of Gujarat, India. Additionally, we gave each female student a pack of Asani pads to encourage the usage of sanitary napkins and always prepare them when they are not in school.
Each year on May 1st, we launch #PledgeYourPeriod Campaign. It’s a month-long campaign to promote dialogues on menstrual hygiene and management, and helping to eradicate the cultural stigma surrounding periods. The campaign will culminate on May 28th, Menstrual Hygiene Day. Until now, we have more than 15 pledges from our friends and donors. We are also organizing a Period Party on May 29th in NYC, bringing together men and women who have contributed to the campaign and share their experiences on how they felt to speak publicly on menstruation.
Pragnaben Patel, a 35-year-old woman living in Dharshana village in Gujarat, India, benefitted immensely from the Asani program. She is married with two children (boys) and is currently working in the production unit earning Rs.3,800 (approximately $55) per month. Before joining the program, she was working on farms as a daily wage labourer. Her husband’s income was spent on her children’s school fees and other necessities. She was also one in many thousand rural women who used cloth instead of sanitary napkins during their menstrual cycle.
Asani gave her a platform to learn new skills, grow professionally, and become an earning member of her family. Her monthly family income is in the range of Rs.9,000-10,000 ($90-$120) per month, which is on the higher end for a family living in rural India.
Today, Pragnaben is an independent woman who is performing two roles- financially supporting her family and helping women and girls in her village learn about the importance of menstrual hygiene and management.
Asani continues to help women and girls like her to learn about menstrual hygiene and the health benefits of using safe sanitary napkins.
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