'Padwoman' of Mangaluru leads students on mission to create menstrual awareness

Pics: Abhijith N Kolpe
Daijiworld Media Network - Mangaluru (ANK)

Mangaluru, Feb 24: Children and students of today’s generation are either hooked on to mobiles, tablets and other modern gadgets or seen hanging out with friends at malls or spending time indulging in various activities. Breaking the trend is a group of young students of Kavoor government First Grade College, under the guidance of Kalpa Trust, who have set on a mission to create awareness on one of the most neglected aspects of women's health - menstrual hygenie.

And it's not just about creating awareness. These students have gone a step further, by setting up their own sanitary napkin unit to enable easy, safe and affordable access to a necessity that is basic to any woman.

Founder of Kalpa Trust, Prameela Rao is leading the group of young students in manufacturing low-cost sanitary pad-making to generate awareness about traditional unhygienic practices around menstruation in rural areas and backward colonies. The name of the sanitary pad is 'Swastya'.

The sanitary napkins manufactured by multinational companies in India are expensive and women in rural areas cannot afford to buy them. The sanitary napkins produced by the students through Kalpa Trust are distributed free of cost to women in the backward colonies of Gurupur, Malali, Bajpe, and Shakthinagar. Poor people who want the sanitary napkins can acquire them free of cost.

Upset on hearing instances of women in the rural areas using waste materials during menstruation, Prameela Rao decided to start a sanitary pad-making unit of her own. Taking initiative, in 2014, Prameela took 21 youths to an organisation called 'Goonj' in New Delhi founded by Anshu Gupta and trained them under him. Hence, sanitary pads were first manufactured on trial basis.

Prameela wanted to her sanitary pad-making unit to have a large impact. It was Dr Tara Rao, the principal of Kavoor government First Grade College who came forward to help Prameela in setting up her sanitary pad-making unit at the college.

Process of Making Sanitary Pads

In the initial days, members from Kalpa Trust and other volunteers used to collect old clothes from people. Cotton cloths would be then washed and sterilized, which would be further cut as necessary and ironed.

New cotton clothes too are brought in, washed, ironed and sized into 8x9 inches. Medical cotton is then filled into the sterilized cloth pieces which are also sized 8x9 inches. This is filled into the new cotton pieces and stitched from all four sides to make 'Swastya' sanitary pads.

Donors Donate Old Clothes

After the successful production of sanitary pads, people and well wishers voluntarily donated old clothes for the purpose of manufacturing sanitary pads. Students either collect the clothes from the donors or the donors themselves send the clothes to the unit. Along with old clothes, Kalpa Trust also collects old household items which will be distributed to people in need.

Many like-minded people are presently donating old clothes and household items which are being delivered by the Trust to the poor and needy.

Rs 120 for a Box of Sanitary Pads

Each box contains 10 packets of sanitary pads worth Rs 120. While the Trust gets old clothes and does ironing and stitching free of cost, the medical cotton and new clothes are purchased which incurs some cost. The final outcome, that is the sanitary pads, are distributed free of cost to the needy.

Students take initiative and lend their help in manufacturing the sanitary pads on Sundays and government holidays. Along with the 23 volunteers, there are four trainers well trained from Delhi who guide the students.

Food Bank

Along with the sanitary pad-making unit, Kalpa Trust runs a food bank, where people can call up and donate food. Eatables, on the verge of being thrown at functions can be sent to the Trust. The food will be distributed at orphanages and ashrams in the outskirts of Mangaluru. Those willing to donate food can call Kalpa Trust before 3 pm.

Need for New Rented Building

Founder of Kalpa Trust Dr Prameela Rao speaking to daijiworld said that though 'Swastya' sanitary pad is in huge demand, it is very hard for the trust to continue running the pad-making unit in the college for a longer duration. "It would be helpful if we get a rented building for the production of sanitary pads. At present, we are using medical cotton for pads. In near future, we are planning to use wood pulp," she said.

Principal of Kavoor government First Grade College Dr Tara Rao said, "With the help of Kalpa Trust, students pursuing BA here have got themselves involved in this pad-making work. It is hard for poor people to buy sanitary pads from medical shops as they are quite expensive. The main purpose of the ‘Swastya’ sanitary pads is to reach the poor women in rural areas.

Trainer Lalan said, "I had read about a tribal woman who used old cloth during menstruation. She died due to complications arising out of the presence of a button in the cloth. This incident forced me to think about doing something to avoid such freak incidents. Hence, I took help from Kalpa Trust and received training in Delhi. I feel happy to teach students and involve myself in manufacturing sanitary pads for the welfare of poor women in rural areas."


Comment on this article

  • Sunil Dsouza, Mangalore / Mumbai

    Sun, Feb 25 2018

    If government was really serious about womens health and sanitation then government would have abolished all taxes on Sanitary napkins. Its a pity that government gives tax discounts on healthcare but taxes are imposed on sanitary napkins , Indireclty the women are made to pay 12 times in a year. Companies making napkins can make these products more cheaper when taxes are ruled out.

    DisAgree Agree [3] Reply Report Abuse

  • Ravi, mangalore

    Sun, Feb 25 2018

    Good Initiative , but I don't think so this is hygienic pads because there using old cloths

    DisAgree [2] Agree [1] Reply Report Abuse

  • Devkumar, Mangalore/New Delhi

    Sun, Feb 25 2018

    stitching classes going around..skill development.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [1] Reply Report Abuse

  • Joseph F. Gonsalves, Bannur, Puttur / Mangalore

    Sat, Feb 24 2018

    Pad Woman is a good initiative.
    May the women's have safe and hygienic pads

    Chaaiwaala's Cow Government inflicted high G.S.T. on Sanitary Pads.

    He is anti women's empowerment.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [20] Reply Report Abuse

  • praveen, mangalore

    Sat, Feb 24 2018

    wish the government also chips in by reducing tax on sanitary pads instead of putting heavy GST on them. make them more affordable.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [15] Reply Report Abuse

  • Vincent D'Souza, Belthangady

    Sat, Feb 24 2018

    This initiative is inspired by the sense "self care" & will satisfy the needs of women, especially young girls who have crossed the puberty age. But, the concern is how the used pads are disposed off? In most of the northern states, some stupid, arrogant, un-hygienic women throw these pads on roads & streets. Dogs are attracted to this. Swatch Bharat Abhiyan must include a step towards hygiene. Let us educate ourselves.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [18] Reply Report Abuse

  • Ivar, Mangalore

    Sat, Feb 24 2018

    Oh no!!
    intent appreciated. But the production pictures clearly shows unhygene. Are pads sanitized before distribution? if sanitized, are they sealed airtight?
    Instead of continuing the production in this manner, this trust should think of buying sanitary pads in bulk through online channels where good brands are available for cheaper price.

    DisAgree [12] Agree [11] Reply Report Abuse

  • Rao, Udupi

    Sat, Feb 24 2018

    Good Initiative. Congrats

    DisAgree [2] Agree [18] Reply Report Abuse

  • Frederick Sequeira, Kallianpur

    Sat, Feb 24 2018

    Hats off to these bold n energetic entrepreneurs. Subject hitherto a taboo has been adopted boldly. With all the success.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [13] Reply Report Abuse


Title : 'Padwoman' of Mangaluru leads students on mission to create menstrual awareness


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