The Saukhyam journey started with a quest to find a hygienic and affordable way for rural women to handle menstruation with dignity.
When Embracing the World launched the Amrita SeRVe Self-Reliant Village project, our volunteers fanned out into the field and began listening to villagers describe the challenges they were facing.
Along the way, we realized that instead of celebrating the power of womanhood, menstruation was being looked upon as a taboo subject – a source of shame and a topic to be avoided.
Keeping the topic of menstruation in the margins had led rural women to choose unhygienic methods and had forced adolescent girls to skip classes and even to drop out of school. The Saukhyam journey started with a quest to find a hygienic and affordable way for rural women to handle menstruation with dignity.
With inspiration and guidance from Amma, our team of designers set out to design affordable, colorful reusable pads that would address the concerns of rural women and meet their needs. The Sanskrit word Saukhyam means happiness and well-being, and we chose this name for our reusable cloth pads in part to help transform the topic of menstruation from a taboo to one of nurturing and self-care.
The pads have been designed such that they can be easily washed and dried, thereby preventing infection. The Saukhyam pad is designed to blend in easily, looking just like a shawl or handkerchief, allowing women to boldly hang the pads out to dry along with other clothing. Saukhyam pads last easily for 4-5 years and do not generate any waste. After finalizing a design that was embraced by our target population, the next step was to train rural women to make the reusable pads. This approach has a two-fold benefit. It helps women come together both to develop more awareness and respect for who they are, and also to generate income, thereby becoming more self-reliant.
Research has proven that women who earn their own income wield greater power to bring about change in their own family and in society as well. Finally, in bringing the product to market, we discovered that our unique design, built to meet the needs of India’s rural women, is better for women everywhere.