Leading the way in feminine hygiene
Scindia Kanya Vidyalaya, India
Following a Round Square community project, students from Scindia Kanya Vidyalaya have become advocates for female hygiene.
The focus of the project was improving the hygiene of a village called Nathon ka Pura. Scindia Kanya Vidyalaya (SKV) is home to an award-winning invention to make affordable sanitary essentials for women within the local community.
Students from SKV had discovered that the women in the village, who could not afford branded sanitary towels, would instead use rags, leaves and even sand. “Their dignity and health [are affected],” remarks Medha Inamdar, an SKV biology teacher, who supports the schools campaign.
Approximately 70% of all reproductive diseases in India are caused by poor menstrual hygiene - it can also affect maternal mortality.
The affordable sanitary towels manufactured by students at SKV are produced by a patented machine created by the now world-famous Arunachalam Muruganantham, who discovered that his wife was using rags as they couldn’t afford the products of multinational companies. The students manufacture the napkins, package them into blocks of five and distribute them in the village each month for free. “It’s the kind of invention in which you say, ‘Why didn’t I think of this?’” remarks SKV Principal Nishi Misra.
Another step in reaching out to the women in need was taken by sending sanitary napkins to the victims of J&K Floods in September 2014.
In addition to their continuing work in manufacturing and distributing feminine hygiene product, the students from SKV built four essential toilets in Nathon Ka Pura, allowing women in the village privacy and safety.
Dedicated female toilet block are vital for ensuring that young women remain in education as research shows that 23% of girls drop out of education once they start menstruating. According to the country’s Annual Status of Education Report in 2011, lack of access to toilets causes girls between 12 and 18 years of age to miss around five days of school every month, or around 50 school days every year.
With help from seven other Round Square School, 60 students spent four days sifting through gravel, mixing cement, carrying tubs to the site and passed bricks from the roadside pile. Many of the tiny local children came forward to lend a helping hand.
Along with its aim of improving health and hygiene conditions, community service and empowerment of women, SKV’s project Sankalp has now ventured forward to improve the financial conditions of women by setting up self-help groups and providing them livelihoods in our manufacturing units.