Sanitary napkins for poor women

Indian invention reaches poor African women

Anyone watching feminine hygiene advertising of various brands of sanitary napkins for women is led to believe that only their product can provide comfortable and carefree life for women on those three days. The concepts of such advertisements are designed to target women in all walks of life, making all kinds of claims, say a dancer can dance, an executive can work, a sportswoman can ride a bicycle or so, as if they are normal on those days. The advertisements go far in to the psychology of women and even instil fear about illness if they do not use their products.

We should be only happy that women feel good by using these products, but we are concerned about the exorbitant price of the napkins which prohibits the poor woman from buying and using the napkins. Is it fair to allow such discrimination? Only rich and middle class women could afford to buy those MNC products to tide over those three days of their natural menstruation cycle comfortably; The poor woman were using old cotton cloth etc, which caused many health hazards.

The MNCs always try to manufacture and sell any product which is essentially used by each person or family in any country. Such product shall be in a constant or increasing demand. That is the expanse of a global market. By this way the MNCs spread their wings in all countries, grow making manifold profit beyond a reasonable margin to become rich and rich. But the fair minded persons express their concern about commercialization of the Food including water and Medicines including the sanitary products which are essential for up keeping of a healthy and clean human body. Certain items in this category are beyond the reach of the poor.

And the good news now is that poor woman all over the world can buy and use sanitary napkins at an affordable price.

How is it possible?

Let us go back by two years to villages in Tamil nadu

A school dropout from Coimbatore, Arunachalam Muruganandam ( 43) invented a sanitary napkin machine which could produce 1000 pieces of napkins in just eight hours at a cost of Rs.1.00 per piece. This machine was priced at Rs.85,000/-only. The napkin produced by this machine was not only inexpensive but also environment-friendly and hygienic. This machine has got the potential of marginalising the MNCs who manufacture sanitary napkins and is about to force them to reduce the prices of their products.

Mini Sanitary napkin machine

Mini Sanitary napkin machine.

Several women Self Help Groups ( SHG) promoted by the Government of Tamil nadu and the Nationalised banks acquired this mini sanirtary napkin machine and started manufacturing the napkins to sell at a price of just Rs.2.00 per napkin in rural areas. A rural entrepreneur from Ramanathapuram reported that the SHG of three women employed six more women to run a sanitary napkin machine could earn a profit of Rs.20,000 per month.

In a remote village Mekala Chinnampally in Krishnagiri District, the poor Girl students used double inner wear or cloth to keep away stains since they could not buy sanitary napkins. More students preferred to stay away from schools in those days.
The authorities of District administration came with an idea of installing napkin vending machine inside the toilet of the Government school. The vending machine cost only Rs.8000/- and a low cost incinerator Rs.1500/- The sanitary napkins would be made available at a low cost by the self help groups who produced napkins using the mini napkin machine.

“The response of the students has been positive, Several remote village schools where girls haven’t even seen a sanitary napkin will now have a vending machine and most importantly, don’t have to bunk class,” said Ganesh Murthy, UNICEF consultant. About 570 teachers in the district have been trained to introduce children to sanitary napkins. “The UNICEF and the state government have broken the stigma surrounding female hygiene.”

In rural areas which are yet to transform to modernity owing to cultural liabilities, the girl students even hesitate to talk about their inconvenience and are shy of visiting a pharmacy or shop to ask for a napkin. Such difficulty is now removed as we hear a student saying “Before the napkin vending machine was set up in our school, we used to be very worried while coming to school, as we were using clothes before being introduced to sanitary napkins. We are required to put in two rupees into the machine and it returns a napkin. Our teachers taught us how to use them. We also have a place where we can burn the used napkins ( the incinerator) ”

That is the success story reported two years back.

And Now?

Professor Thomas M. Stove of the famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( MIT), Mechanical department, after learning the success story of the invention by Muruganandam and the widespread use of this machine in India enhancing rural hygiene has arranged for a contract between MIT and Muruganandam for buying the machine. The shipment of his sanitary napkin machines is to begin shortly.

Muruganandam says “Rather than giving cash and product grants, the MIT plans to supply my machines to several poor African states so that the women there will start using this inexpensive hygienic napkin. The initiative will also spawn several women’s self-help groups (SHGs) making decent profits by running these machines,” showers heartfelt appreciation for the inventor Muruganandam, the Government authorities, the self help groups, UNICEF and MIT for their concern, particularly to Mr. Muruganandam for his idea making a global impact. The achievement of Muruganandam shall be considered less if it is mere an invention, it is great if it is looked at as a social service benefitting millions of poor women around the world.


The world will flock around one
devoted to honest social service

( ThiruValluvar 1025)

Written by Malarthamil

Malarthamil is a civil engineer and writer-poet inspired by Thirukkural – a classical Tamil poetry that expounds various aspects of life.

38 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. i’m a house wife i would like to know the details regarding the machine

  2. Hi. I want to give you a brief note to verbalize my appreciation. I have been following your blog posts for a month and have picked up a lot of fantastic tips and enjoyed the way you have structured your blog. I am undertaking to run my personal blog site however I think its too general and I would like to focus more on certain topics.

  3. Mr Dhandapani,

    Check out this site
    where u can get the contact details along with all the other informations

    Hope this works!!

  4. Dear Sir,

    Lot of enquired about their contact details for a long time and muself also,
    but we did’t get answers,

    any reasion behind that not giving contact details of the manufacturer.

  5. Hi, ppl check out this site to get more details about Mr.Muruganandam

    • Fall is my favorite of all snaeoss so many resons I love the cool crisp weather. My favorite meal with my family has always been Thanksgiving dinner. The new colors from the trees.This is my favorite time to plant flowers in my garden.

  6. I want address of Mr. Muruganandam and also his contact number because I want to buy the machin and know more about product.

  7. I want to know the materials used and how and where from to get them including the machine itself

  8. malar can u plz send me the contact number of muruganandam.

  9. kindly send where i get the napkin machine

  10. I first read about this in the Indian Express.Today,I decided to google as I was curious to have a look at the machine & I got to see it here.Great to know that a noble mind is at work.

    Heartfelt thanks to the inventor ! May his tribe prosper for ever !

  11. i wanted to machine any information my email id please contact

  12. Dear Sir,

    I have reviewed the article and would like to know the contact details of Muruganandam. I am in Vellore city and would like to start the home based business with my area members. So i kindly request you to provide the necessary information to proceed further.

    Thanks and regards,

  13. Dear
    Its a very noble cause and we would like to replicate the same in the state of punjab. Pl. guide that to whom should we contact at UNICEF for its successfull implementation.

  14. Dear Sir / Madam,

    Greetings from “Community Reconstruction of Social Service” (CROSS).

    I am happy to inform you that CROSS is a non- governmental, non-profit multi sectrol development agency involved in Community Development since 1986. CROSS is a registered Society under Tamilnadu societies Act of 1975, registered with Income tax of 12A and obtained 80G. CROSS has permanent Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) from Government of India to receive foreign contribution for charitable purposes.

    Over the year, CROSS has been involved in the following Community Development Projects.

    On Going Projects:-

    1. Integrated Women Development program
    2. Holistic child Development program
    3. Leprosy Rehabilitation and General Disability Development
    4. HIV & AIDS care program.
    5. Micro – Credit for women economic Empowerment.
    6. NGO network program.
    7. Tuberculosis Awareness & Care program
    8. Keerthi Boarding Home.(HIV infected & orphan Children)
    9. Integrated land water program.

    Near Completion Programs:-

    1. Comprehensive community Development Program – This will be completed in 2 years.
    2. Tuberculosis Awareness & Care program – one year program.

    Completed Program:-

    1. Tsunami Relief, Rehabilitation and community Development program.
    2. Micro Credit among SHG.
    The above programs are being implemented in South India with required standards. There are 86 full part time staffs working in CROSS projects. Our main focus groups are poorest of poor, marginalized, disadvantaged and particularly CROSS serves all people irrespective of caste, creed and religion.

    In order to serve the neediest and POOREST OF POOR of our country, We need your help and technical support. We like teach this to the self help group women so please contact us.

    Therefore, we humbly request your good self to support and to develop these needy people through CROSS.
    We would like to have your partnership in our projects, so kindly send us your project guidelines, applications etc as earlier as possible
    Thanking You
    Yours Sincerely,

    (S. Sripatham)

  15. VERY usefull article. I like to do this business in my home,This is a great news…….a great invention….

    I appreciate the effort of the inventor for inventing it and to the writer for giving this beautiful news to people like me.

    I want Mr. Muruganandan contact details ple help me…

  16. I also would like to bring to your attention that there are lot of people working on menstrual hygiene these days. there are many more people who have good quality machines, vending machines for napkins etc. While the talk is on about access to low cost napkins. Now we have even incinerators which are low cost that is put up in schools. In addition to this organisation like ours – Shri Cheema Foundation work with the Government and UNICEF to promote awareness on the menstrual hygiene and educate them on good hygiene practices. A topic that has as far been covered in the culture of silence is being brought to the forefront.

  17. This is great activity for the health groups like ours. We have tried to supply hand made sanitary napkins through our SHGs. But the cost is much higher i.e. approx Rs. 2 per napkin. In our tribal rural area where poverty is the way of life the girls and young women could not buy it at that price. So the initiative did not become viable. But we supplied it for 50 paise per napkin and many of them wanted the product. However we had many logistical problems and we could not continue the activity. But we do have a regular teaching on how to maintain menstrual hygiene, specially disposal of the napkins alongwith other issues.

    However we are very much in this machine and the vending machine idea. If anyone can put us in touch with Muru, it will be great. By the way we work in rural tribal district of Panchmahals in Gujarat, India.

    Nimitta Bhatt, [email protected]

  18. Anion Sanitary NapkinSanitary Napkins with Negative Ion (Anion), the best sanitary napkin in the marketing ie Love Moon Sanitary Napkin.

  19. I want to do this business in my home,This is a great news…….a great invention….

    I appreciate the effort of the inventor for inventing it and to the writer for giving this beautiful news to people like me.

    To know more about this technology can I have the contact details of the inventor?

  20. We are ready to utilise and help others in the same,actually This is a great news…….a great invention….

    I appreciate the effort of the inventor for inventing it and to the writer for giving this beautiful news to people like me.

    To know more about this technology can I have the contact details of the inventor?

  21. Welcome webalfee. We are happy to know that you like to spread such messages of inspiration.

  22. great post. I will refer this page to some of my friends and relatives to read it.

  23. I want to do this business in my home,iam an housewife and want to earn money from home, pls give me address and details of this machine that where we will get it?

  24. Great article, Malar! It’s amazing how one man’s invention can make such a difference to the health, education and well-being of millions of women around the world. I’m linking this article…

  25. Dear sir

    I want to do this work please give me full address of your office or factory….
    I am waiting for your reply
    Thank you…

  26. Malar:

    I dont want to be left out..The article made me feel happy..This is a positive news in a world of bad news..

    Another good news is to hear Obama fight passionately to close down Guantanamo bay although it would cost govt lot of money..


  27. Vikadakavi, Dr. Das, Ram Prasad, Prakash, Scorp, Minnie and Shree,

    I am very happy to see all positive comments and that shows, so many people are concerned about humanity.

    I plan to visit director of public health TN, and try get more details of Photograph, address of Muruganandam.

    Moreover another intersting story may be available from me if I can get the details of conducting Valaikaappu function in Primary Health Centres to Poor women which was attended by women from all religions.

  28. Malar…this is really a great piece of information. My thought were transported back to my school days in Coimbatore. Though I studied in a all-girls convent school (back in 80′s-90′s), we always felt really delicate to come to school on those days. Though many of us were from the middle class, some how our families didn’t introduce us to sanitary napkins. It was our school that open the doors to a hygienic world. During emergencies :) we could get napkins from the health dept of the school and we were also taught about the incinerator. Sometimes, few product companies gave out samples to educate us about the napkins.

    Your article makes me feel proud of my school and many other rural schools that have come forward to improve the hygiene of the girl child. Hail Mr. Muruganandam.

    All the previous comments are from men… nice to know that men these days are open minded and are also coming forward to help more women.

  29. Its great to know about something like this! Applause to the inventor !! This has to be known by all the women folks everywhere. Even though this is happening from past 2 years, we got to know about it now and thru Kalugu !! Keep it up!!

  30. Well, this is one great news. It’s a blessing in disguise for the (I don’t want to use the word ‘poor’) women we meet sometimes, the kind of women who are buzzing around in their villages and towns to support their families.. What a relief for the woman folks who were not able to buy sanitary napkins ‘coz of the price! It’s more than a help.. It’s a service . . My heartfelt appreciations to Muruganandam!!

  31. What a life Muruganandam has given to the poor & SHG. Kudos to him. If you can get his pic here, it will be great.

  32. Hi Malar,

    Excellent piece of article. If you have any details about Mr.Muruganandam please do share with us. There are companies like nestle which sucks the blood of the poor in developing countries by distributing baby milk powder for free in hospitals and once the babies are used to it they no longer drink breast fed milk and the poor parents are forced to buy nestle. This is a old story but worth reading

    The organised blood sucking of the poor in developing countries and under developed countries need to be stopped. Your very first para talks about the MNC’s marketing strategies.
    The advertisements go far in to the psychology of women and even instil fear about illness if they do not use their products.
    – Malartamil
    Excellent malar….

  33. This is a great news…….a great invention….

    I appreciate the effort of the inventor for inventing it and to the writer for giving this beautiful news to people like me.

    To know more about this technology can I have the contact details of the inventor?

  34. I was so moved with the story, that I could not wait to finish it at the end & rush to add my reply. Then I noticed “And Now?” and the tail piece!

    This is one awesome great news! I am thirsty for such success-stories, and I would rate this as the best morale-booster article. Kalugu has to fly high with such articles. Thank you malar.


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