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Mahesh Khandelwal the man behind sanitary revolution in India

  • Mrinalini Singh
  • August 2, 2017
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While talking about menstruation is still considered a taboo in India, here is a man from Uttar Pradesh who not only designed sanitary napkins for poor women but also made them affordable and eco-friendly too. He is also providing lakhs of women regular employment through his initiative. A scientist turned entrepreneur, who broke a strict taboo in India’s tradition-bound society and worked to perfect an affordable sanitary pad in hope of starting a movement to help women in developing a country.

It was when Chandralekha, an IAS officer from Mathura explained him about the plight of rural women, and the difficulties they face and difficulties they face during menstruation Khandelwal came to know about fact and decided to come up with a solution. Born and brought up in a small town in Uttar Pradesh, Khandelwal carefully observed the issues of the rural women faced because of unavailability of sanitary napkins at affordable prices. He then decided to take on the challenge.

Khandelwal formed a sustainable model under Redcross Kutir Udyog of Vrindaban and started manufacturing products with the help of women from the lower income families. He designed WE sanitary napkins, which cost less compared to the ones available in the market. WE napkins are also more lightweight compared to other napkins. These napkins absorb more leakage and last for around 12 hours as compared to other sanitary napkins.

Apart from producing sanitary napkins, Khandelwal has also designed a machine which can produce 2,000 packets of sanitary napkins in a day. Recently, with the help of NGO Deepalaya, students from IIT Delhi bought a sanitary napkin-making unit from him and set up in a remote area of Rajasthan. Initially, many male members in these women’s homes didn’t like their wives leaving the house to work outside with a man. But Khandelwal was not one to give up. He kept doing his work and gradually when people saw the positive impact of the work and the extra income it was generating for the women, they started accepting Khandelwal’s ideas.

There are over 30 crore women in India who need sanitary napkins every month and at the same time, many women use unhygienic alternatives to sanitary pads which puts them at a huge risk of infection. Also, thousands of girls aged between 13 and 19 miss a week of school every month, for the lack of sanitary pads. This project is an effort to change this.

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