Rural India: From Cloth Pads to Financial Independence

Rural India: From Cloth Pads to Financial Independence

It's great to be back at Lunapads after an entire school year has passed. Last summer I had the opportunity to work on the Lunapads Pads4Girls video. It was a great experience. Not only to create the video, but also to learn about Pads4Girls.

If you haven't heard yet, Pads4Girls is the name of Lunapads' philanthropic project which sends reusable menstrual pads to girls in developing nations. The project has an enormous impact on the lives of girls living in developing nations.

Having adequate menstrual supplies ensures that these girls don't miss school when they get their periods. Without these supplies, girls miss up to as much as 20% of their education because of their periods. Pads4Girls is currently being featured on Mothering.com this month.

Interning for Lunapads this year, one of my fun tasks is to keep the Lunapads Youtube Channel updated and lively! While browsing Youtube today, I came across this truly uplifting video about the Pardada Pardadi school for girls, located just outside of Delhi, India. Surprisingly, the story has a common theme with our Pads4Girls effort- Cloth Pads.



In rural India, where the Pardada Pardadi school is located, the idea of a financially independent woman is still not the social norm. Luckily, the Pardada Pardadi school is making efforts to change this. The school's goal is to train girls to become leaders in their communities.

To reach this goal, the 1000 students at the school are offered free education, free books, free uniforms, free bicycles as well as the opportunity to make their own money.

After their courses, the girls make bedspreads, cushions and cloth pads for their communities. Each girl is given 10 rupees a day for her attendance. By the time a girl graduates, she makes 34-40 thousand rupees (1000 dollars) to put towards further education and to help lift her family out of the poverty cycle.

Of all the sewn products that the girls produce, the most in demand products are cloth pads. The reason for this is simple, woman's sanitary pads are expensive and difficult to come by in rural India. This fact is common in most developing nations. According to Pardada Pardadi's website Rags-to-Pads, "most rural Indian women and girls catch numerous vaginal infections after attaining puberty. The reason is because they use dirty or unsanitized cloth during menstruation -- because they cannot afford hygienically-prepared sanitary pads". For this reason, producing reusable cloth pads is a major service to the community.

Where the girls live, "Forty thousands families...live below the poverty line". According to Pardada Pardadi, employment is scarce. The overarching attitude in society is also patriarchal, where the sexes are not equal.This reality means women's health is low priority and escaping poverty is a seemingly impossible task for women.

Despite all this, Pardada Pardadi is truly making a difference, his students are on their way to becoming financially independent through education and a sustainable source of income. The girls are also being educated about their health and their menstrual cycles. The good extends beyond Pardada Pardadi's school, the pads made by his students keep the girls in school during their periods, and minimize the incidences of vaginal infection for other women in their community.

Clearly, Pardada Pardadi's contributions are making profound changes in the lives of his students. For me, it is continually inspirational to learn about people like Pardada Pardadi. Discovering videos like this while on the job, is definitely a perk. I hope bringing attention to this amazing video, will bring more awareness to the needs of girls in developing areas.

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