What We Do

Sneha is a non-profit that manufactures and sells low-cost sanitary pads made by rural women for their communities. A 2010 survey called "Sanitary Protection: Every Woman's Health Right" conducted by Plan India and AC Nielsen found that only 12% of India's 355 million menstruating women use sanitary pads, relying instead on cloth rags, often leading to health complications. Sneha's goal is twofold: to improve menstrual hygiene education in low-income communities and to empower rural women to run a successful sanitary pads manufacturing business. What differentiates Sneha from other similar initiatives is the focus on developing, training, and enabling the women who work at Sneha to be its primary stakeholders.

Since its inception in 2009, Sneha has repaid seed capital and reached break-even financially. Sneha has employed 10 women from low income communities who have become financially independent and developed useful job skills, positively impacting Udupi district's economy. Moreover, it has helped improve menstrual hygiene awareness in Udupi district, educating 15,000 rural adolescent girls and women on Menstrual Health Management (MHM) and selling more than 200,000 sanitary pads.

Geographical Information

Udupi district has a population of 1,177,361 (2011 census) spread over an area of 3,582 sq. km. It is located in the state of Karnataka, and is 381 km from Bangalore. Udupi taluk is one among the three taluks of Udupi district. Udupi taluk covers a population of 527,551 spread out in 115 villages. The striking features of this taluk are its high literacy rate of 86.24%, a commendable female literacy rate of 81.58% and a sex ratio of 1094 females per 1000 males. Government health care services are provided through a network of primary health centers, community health centers and a district hospital. In addition, there are a large number of private health facilities. There are a total of 33 pre-university colleges, 93 high schools in Udupi taluk. More than 75,000 students attend the schools and colleges in Manipal.

Manipal is a university town situated in Udupi taluk. The department of Community Medicine of Kasturba Medical College (KMC), Manipal has a field practice area covering a population of approximately 50,000 spread over eleven villages. There are 35 Anganwadis in the field practice area. There are even some Self Help Groups that are very active in this area.

Benefits of Low-Cost Sanitary Pads in Rural Communities

1. Better menstrual hygiene: Using reusable homemade napkins does not provide a sterile medium for absorbing the menstrual flow. When cloth rags are used after washing, there is a risk of germs and fungal medium settling in it if it is not properly sun dried. Moreover, while using cloth, it remains wet once it gets soaked and this allows for germs to breed in them. Disposable napkins being sterile offer more comfort and better hygiene.

2. Enhanced mobility: Disposable napkins are easy to carry and during menstruation time, one can be assured of continuous protection. Embarrassment due to menstrual blood showing is what prevents rural adolescents and women from venturing outside for carrying out their regular routines. Studies have revealed that when disposable sanitary napkins were made available to young girls, their school attendance increased to a certain extent.

3. Women's empowerment: The confidence and capability to handle the menstrual process without fear or embarrassment empowers rural women to a considerable extent. The ability to decide their schedules and manage their body functions in a hygienic way gives them an extreme sense of well-being and safety.

Many feminine hygiene products are available in the Indian market, their cost ranging between Rs. 2.40 - 7.5 / napkin. With this cost profile, these products are being utilized mostly by the upper middle and high-income group women. Also, the high product cost is a major deterrent in its utilization by the people of the low-income category. A need was thus felt to develop a low cost technology for the manufacture of products for sanitary protection.

Production Cycle of Sneha Sanitary Pad