Gramalaya hands out free cloth pads during lockdown

Gramalaya, a Tiruchi-based voluntary organisation working towards public sanitation and hygiene, has distributed cloth pads to nearly 5,000 women amid the lockdown as a precautionary measure against COVID-19 this year. The pads were given to households with menstruating women along with other items of personal hygiene including soaps, face masks and sanitizers.

A pack of four cloth pads, made by women in the NGO’s manufacturing unit in Musiri were given to each of the 5,500 houses in Tamil Nadu, predominantly in Pudukottai and Tiruchi districts. Another 5,500 more were given out in Puducherry.

Rebranded as Giocare Reusable Cloth Pads, the feminine hygiene products are also being sold on their website at Rs. 600. "Use and throw sanitary pads contain toxic chemicals, pesticides, perfumes and adhesives and we designed an alternative which is washable and reusable,” J. Geetha, Executive Director, CSR of Gramalaya said.

In the last year alone, they have sold 15,000 packs of the product, which contains four pads. "While the entire country shut down during the lockdown, our field-level staff continued to go door-to-door to create awareness on menstrual hygiene," she said.

In many villages, both in Tiruchi and Pudukottai districts, toilets were constructed but were in disuse. Girls who had to say at home along with the other male members of the family during the lockdown would go into bushes and thickets to change their sanitary napkins only once or twice a day. “This caused rashes, infections and other problems. When our field-level staff told them about our pads, they gladly took them,” she said.

K. Saroja, Marketing Manager, Gramalaya conducted a comparative study of all cloth pads available online. “We found that many were reusable but had some flaws. Some were made of material that was not breathable, while others were too small for prolonged use. We have also utilised this information to make changes to our product,” she said.

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