In 2016, Anju Bist, the Co-director of Amrita SeRVe in Kollam, and her team came up with Saukhyam, a reusable sanitary pad made from waste banana fibre. Today Saukhyam Reusable Pads are used by thousands of women and girls worldwide.
Cups, Tampons or Sanitary Pads – women in Urban India have access to all these kinds of menstrual hygiene products. But the same cannot be said about women of rural India. The National Family Health Survey (2015-16) of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare revealed that only 48.2% of girls in the age group of 15-24 years used hygienic methods of protection during menstrual periods in rural India.
Solving this problem in 2016, Anju Bist, the Co-director of Amrita SeRVe in Kollam, and her team came up with Saukhyam, a reusable sanitary pad made out of waste banana fibre. Produced in Kerala, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, these pads are already in the market in organic stores around South India and on their online store.
Amrita SeRVe is located in the Kollam district of Kerala and is an organization under Mata Amritanandamayi, also known as Amma, a Hindu Spiritual Leader. The organization ushered in sustainable development in village clusters across India and their work is aligned with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. According to Amrita SeRVe, Mata Amritanandamayi is the one who inspired and urged them to make these reusable sanitary pads.
Banana fibre is an excellent absorbent. It is also a type of cellulose fibre. However, it is obtained from agricultural waste; no trees are cut to extract the fibre. India is the largest producer of bananas in the entire world. This fruit tree has a unique property – it fruits only once. After the fruit is obtained in 8-9 months, the tree is cut for it will never bear fruit again. And hence using banana fibre for the making of these pads is truly safe for the environment and is a sustainable way of producing menstrual hygiene products.
Today Saukhyam Reusable Pads are used by thousands of women and girls not only in rural areas but also in towns and cities of India and worldwide. Perhaps what appeals to rural women is the low price and easy availability of these pads. Women self-help groups in several states of India produce and market Saukhyam Reusable Pads. In urban India, the educated informed woman is making a switch because these pads are better for the environment and for her health.
These pads are making a revolutionary change in the menstrual hygiene of women and girls from rural India.