In India, only 10% of the female population use sanitary pads, with the vast majority using a less hygienic rag – western-branded sanitary towels still cost more than a day’s groceries for most people. This fact, allied to the issue of the menstrual cycle being seen as a taboo subject amongst some, led entrepreneur businessman Arunachalam Muruganantham, a metal worker by trade, to use his skills to find a more hygienic solution for the vast majority of Indian woman.
Arunachalam set up a business not only manufacturing more affordable sanitary towels, but selling his machines to women’s groups supported by NGOs to be set up in rural villages, where women can make the sanitary pads themselves using simple technology. Olivia Arthur visited Arunachalam and his wife Shanthi in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu to document his company, Jayaashree Industries, and their growing business.
Arunachalam Muruganantham in his workshop in Coimbatore. Muruga, as he is known, has spent many years developing a machine that women can use to make affordable sanitary pads. Olivia Arthur visited a women and children’s centre on the edge of Coimbatore, which makes low-cost sanitary pads using these machines.