The Sanitary Serviceman • Olivia Arthur • Magnum Photos

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Business

The Sanitary Serviceman

Olivia Arthur’s portrait of the entrepreneur revolutionizing the sanitary product industry in India

Olivia Arthur

Olivia Arthur 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. Coimbatore, India. Oc (...)

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.

Olivia Arthur Arunachalam Muruganantham at home in Coimbatore. Coimbatore, India. October, 2016. © Olivia Arthur | Magnum Photos
Olivia Arthur A stack of just-made sanitary pads at a women and children's centre on the edge of Coimbatore. Coimbatore, India. October, 2016. © Olivia Arthur | Magnum Photos

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.

Olivia Arthur Arunachalam Muruganantham and his wife Shanti at their home in Coimbatore. Coimbatore, India. October, 2016. © Olivia Arthur | Magnum Photos

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.

Olivia Arthur The workshop at Jayaashree Industries where simplified sanitary pad machines are made and then taken to villages. Coimbatore, India. October, 2016. © Olivia Arthur | Magnum Photos
Olivia Arthur Premila Mary displays a handful of fluffed-up wood pulp that will become the lining of a sanitary pad. Premila Mary works at a women and children's centre on the edge of Coimbatore, which makes low (...)
Olivia Arthur Women working at a women and children's centre using machines made at the Jayaashree workshop. Coimbatore, India. October, 2016. © Olivia Arthur | Magnum Photos
Olivia Arthur Sheets of compressed wood pulp are cut up, ready to be distributed to centres that are using the sanitary pad machines developed by Arunachalam Muruganantham. Coimbatore, India. October, 2016. © Olivia Arthur | Magnum Photos
Olivia Arthur Women working at a women and children's centre using machines made by Arunachalam Muruganantham. Coimbatore, India. October, 2016. © Olivia Arthur | Magnum Photos