How Can Sanitary Pads Impact Global Sustainability?


We have been reflecting on the work we have been doing over the past 5 years and wanted to share more about the complexity of the issues that caused us to start Saathi. We are launching a series of blogs about Saathi’s mission to make sanitary pads that are good for the body, community and environment. Because there are multiple issues we want to address, including period poverty, waste, period equity, sustainability, and women’s health, we are covering the topics in a series instead of in just one post. We hope this 8-part series helps to open the conversation around these topics and that you share your thoughts with us in the comments or use them as an opportunity to raise awareness in your community. In Part 1 of the series, we’ll be talking about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and our #OneMillionPads initiative.

When we started Saathi 5 years ago, we launched our ambitious #OneMillionPads initiative to provide access to eco friendly hygienic sanitary pads that are made in India. The aim of #OneMillionPads initiative is to address the issue of period poverty in a sustainable way. Through this initiative, we provide access to 100% biodegradable and compostable sanitary pads and menstrual health education. Check out some of the facts from our baseline report that we did when we started the #OneMillionPads initiative.


What Are The UN SDGs and Why Did We Start This Initiative?


There are 17 UN SDGs or Global Goals which were set in 2015 by the UN General Assembly and intended to be achieved by 2030. They are part of a UN Resolution called the 2030 Agenda and their mission statement is “A blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all by 2030”. In 2017, more specific targets and indicators were made for each goal to help measure progress toward each target. The SDGs succeeded the Millenium Development Goals which ended in 2015 and were meant to encourage collective action by all countries. The government of India established NITI Aayog to attain the sustainable development goals. 


We wanted to address lack of access to sanitary pads in a sustainable way and using a responsible business model. Through our holistic approach, we are able to work towards 8 of the 17 UN SDGs by: 

  • Increasing income for farmers
    • Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production "Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns"
    • Goal 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure "Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation"
  • Employing women in manufacturing unit and distribution
    • Goal 5: Gender equality “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”
    • Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth "Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all"
  • Ensuring womxn experience rash-free periods
    • Goal 3: Good health and well-being “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all all ages”
    • Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”
  • Reducing plastic waste and carbon emissions
    • Goal 13: Climate action "Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts by regulating emissions and promoting developments in renewable energy"
    • Goal 14: Life below water   "Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development"

 

Saathi’s Goal:

Saathi pads are good for the body, community and environment. We are on a mission to revolutionize the hygiene industry as a consumer products company that makes products in a sustainable and responsible way. We want to drive systemic change around how menstrual hygiene is addressed and thus drive the shift to a circular economy. We work with sustainable, renewable materials for the product so that it can be upcycled but also make sure that we have a holistic approach to business by ensuring our supply chain is fair and equitable and work to make sure sanitary pads are accessible to womxn who don’t have access. 

Here are a few statistics on the impact we have created so far in total:

In May 2017, we began distribution for our #OneMillionPads initiative. The initiative aimed at providing complete Menstrual Hygiene Management(MHM) to underprivileged women in rural Jharkhand who didn’t have access to sanitary pads. We partnered with Ekal Vidyalaya and its sister organization Arogya Foundation to provide menstrual hygiene education and provide biodegradable sanitary pads made from banana and bamboo fibre. Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation (literally, Foundation of Solo Schools) is a non-profit organization involved in education and village development in rural areas and tribal villages of India. It is the largest grassroots, non-government education initiative in India. 



We also contributed to a number of efforts across the years including:

  • Working with a local school in Ahmedabad to provide sanitary pads to young students
  • Donating a year’s supply to 100+ women in Ahmedabad Central Jail to help inmates manage their periods in an eco-friendly manner. 
  • Helping with flood relief in Assam & Bihar by contributing 7,000 sanitary pads in an ecologically ravaged region. 
  • Providing Meghalaya Central Jail with 2,640 pads. 
  • Collaborating with Shakti.ism, a women collective for whom 3,000 sanitary pads were donated.

Impact by the Numbers:

Since we began, we have been measuring our impact. We realized that the impacts we’re measuring aligned with various UN SDGs and are excited to be part of the solution. We have partnered with various NGOs, CSR partners to work on various projects to address period poverty. Here are a few statistics on the impact we have created so far. 

  • Saved CO2 Emission : 35kg tons
  • Saved Plastic Waste : 30kg tons
  • No of women reached in Rural Areas: 17088
  • Women Employed : 286
  • Farmers Income : 7M INR

How can you help?

This year has been challenging for implementing our #OneMillionPads initiative but we are committed to providing pads to more menstruators and would like to invite you to join us this year. We are launching a crowdfunding campaign to support 5000 womxn and provide them with sanitary pads supply for a year. With your support, we will be donating up to 600,000 pads to womxn from underserved communities. It only takes $20 to provide sustainable  menstrual products to 1 menstruator for the entire year. Help us reach 5000 menstruators by pledging your donation today.

Check our Video here

In Part 2 of the series, we will be talking about period poverty and some of the other issues that occur due to lack of access of sanitary pads.

About Saathi

Saathi is an award winning social venture which has a patented technology to convert agri-waste into absorbent materials. Our sanitary pads are 100% biodegradable and compostable made from banana and bamboo fibers, which convert into compost in 6 months of its disposal. Saathi pads are good for the body, community and environment. We are on a mission to revolutionize the hygiene industry as a consumer products company that makes products in a sustainable and responsible way. 

We are recognized by the  UN, TIME Magazine as one of the 100 Best Inventions of 2019, Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards and Expo 2020 Dubai among others for our innovative, social impact and sustainable work. We are working towards United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 12 - Responsible  Consumption & Production, 13 - Climate Action & 3 - Health & Well-Being among others..

Check out a short video of our story here and Follow us at @saathipads on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin and Youtube to learn about more facts and myth busters about sustainability, women’s health, and more.

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