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PadMan on a Mission to Spread Awareness

PadMan on a Mission to Spread Awareness

by Yash Saboo February 5 2018, 5:37 pm Estimated Reading Time: 2 mins, 55 secs

Let's start with some statistics. Only 12% of women in India have access to sanitary pads. That's certainly shocking. Women in the rural areas struggle majorly, using rags and sawdust, newspapers or dirty clothes during menstruation. This is unhygienic and could lead to severe health issues. The Indian Ministry of Health estimates that 70% of women are at risk of severe infection because of this. One in 53 women in India will be diagnosed with cervical cancer in her lifetime, compared with one in 135 in the UK.

Padmashri Arunachalam Muruganatham, the man who revolutionized the manufacture of the low-cost sanitary napkin in India, invented the machine that can make a pad at a very minimal cost! The revolution that follows from spreading menstrual hygiene to empowering women, to starting mini cooperatives, to a vision of making India a 100% Pad using country, to accolades, to international glory and to a final resolution of his personal life.

Source : Power Humans

PadMan, produced by actress-turned-writer Twinkle Khanna, starring Akshay Kumar as the lead is based on a short story from her book The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad, inspired by the life of Arunachalam Muruganantham.

Here's the real story of the living legend. A school dropout from Coimbatore, Muruganantham decided to challenge a 'taboo'. His mission was to provide sanitary napkins at minimal cost to poor women across the country, especially in rural areas. Muruganantham, whose father was a handloom worker, was well aware of the nitty-gritty of machine and cotton for pads.

What he didn't know was the hardship faced by women during the menstrual cycle, something he learned from his wife Shanthi in 1998. He created a 'uterus' for himself from a football bladder and filled it with goat's blood. He mixed an additive to prevent the blood from clotting but the smell did not stop. He used to roam around the whole day with the bladder tied under his clothes. His aim was to check the absorption rate of the sanitary napkins made by him. It took him two years and three months to discover what sanitary pads are made of. Almost after four-and-a-half years, he successfully created a low-cost machine for the production of sanitary pads.

In India, at least one in five girls drops out of school in rural areas after they get their period, according to research from Nielsen and Plan India, and only 12 percent of menstruating girls and women use sanitary pads (most use old rags, which can lead to reproductive diseases.)

The lack of access to hygiene products was only half the battle. Tackling the misconceptions around menstruation was perhaps more challenging. “There are regions where it’s believed that if an unmarried girl uses a pad and a dog smells it, she will never get married. We worked at a village where they believed if women went out after sunset during menstruation, they will go blind.”

His breakthrough came in 2009 when he won an award from India’s National Innovation Foundation – which supports grassroots technological initiatives – to make and distribute machines for the manufacture of sanitary towels in rural communities. The machines are operated by local women in each area, which provides much-needed employment while also spreading awareness about menstrual hygiene. More than 600 machines have already been distributed in 23 states.

Muruganantham, with the aim of making India 100% pad using country hopes the film enters Bollywood as an eye-opener for everybody. He loves being called the PadMan, as it makes a difference in women's lives.


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