Our MINDFUL-SUPPORT project earned its name due to a constant effort of mindfully supporting what we feel is a very basic need: Hygiene Products for Menstruation. What seems like a simple commodity is quite a complex affair. Menstruation is an intimate topic, discussed only if we feel safe, comfortable, at a medical appointment or in open forums designed to talk about it. How menstruation is embraced or tabued is depending on various factors: Culture, religion, education, self confidence, age and certainly many more factors and personal stories. Which product one can or should use, has many layers as well. Depending on financial situations, education, availability, sexual freedom and education, one can or cannot speak about a menstrual cup or other alternatives to the regular plastic pad.
Living in rural India, where financial means are tight, the very basic sanitary pad is not affordable. Alternatively the women use waste pieces of fabric, prone to leaking and hence it leads to embarrassing situations. A lot of girls do not go to school during their periods and hence are missing out on intellectual growth. The waste fabric is often not very appealing and even more so, it is not practical. To use plastic pads in todays world is environmentally spoken questionable. But to use plastic pads in such a remote area (Kanha National Park/ Tiger reserve), where waste management is hardly existing, leads to a butterfly effect beyond words.
(The women would have to cut more wood from the protected forest, in order to burn the used pads. The time to do that is lacking and it is far from our interest to encourage wood cutting in this pristine National park in any form. Burry it below the earth is equally shattering and the indigenous people being mostly farmers, hence respecting the earth with all its life providing qualities, would not agree at all to do something like this. This leads to the conclusion: we need an alternative solution)
We found a beautiful, reusable and culturally well agreed sanitary pad (www.ecofemme.org). Our Mindful-support team, a team of ladies from the indigenous community, reaches out into far and hidden villages to make this product available. The support team, all ladies from the local community, does not need any further introduction or extra learning to understand the problems women face. It is a constructive and straightforward approach for a positive change.
The pads are sold for a fraction of the regular price (5 INR/ pad ). This number came through sharing and brainstorming with the local community. It is essential for a woman to buy the sanitary pad. To buy something for the benefit of ones own health is nourishing self esteem, self love and self care. The profit of the pad-sale is going back into the community into women associations.
Every product from our collection is funding this project in all its aspects.
We are learning growing an adapting. Follow our blog for updates on this story and on our baby steps with using menstrual cups.