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Last Updated: 20 December 2021

Saukhyam began as a research project at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham. Just like trees are cut to make paper, trees are also cut to make the absorbent material in 99% of disposable pads made and sold globally. Banana fiber is an excellent absorbent. It is also a type of cellulose fiber. Guided by our Chancellor Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma), reusable sanitary pads with banana fiber as the absorbent were developed.

Menstruation or periods are an integral part of a woman’s life. And yet, this topic remains a taboo in various segments of the community. In some of India’s villages, the situation is even more abysmal, with lack of exposure and awareness on critical areas like menstrual health and hygiene. With commercially-available sanitary napkins being highly priced, women end up using dried leaves as well as dirty cloth during that time of the month, putting them at a greater risk of infections. Even if conventionally-available disposable pads were provided to these women, it would result in an environmental disaster. Saukhyam was born as a research project in the University and then a key project of the Mata Amritanandamayi Math, our parent organisation and a humanitarian NGO that has a consultative status to the UN’s ECOSOC.

Amrita Professor Anju Bist, who heads this project, adds that on average, women spend Rs 1200 per year on such pads, and that amounts to half a lakh rupees for a lifetime cost of 40 years. She also adds “The lifetime cost of reusable pads is only about one-tenth this amount. For Saukhyam pads, one can get a starter pack with 5 day pad pieces for Rs 280. A value pack with an additional night pad and a pouch costs Rs 440. With proper care, these pads last for 4-5 years. Even if one needs to purchase it eight times, the total cost only comes to about Rs 3500. This is about half of the cumulative cost of disposable pads, even if one were to consider the Re 1 Suvidha pads available in Jan Aushadhi stores,”.

AMRITA is partnering with our parent organization and with the Government of India’s Jan Sikshan Samasthan (JSS) centers. Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham will work with the Mata Amritanandamayi Math to enable the JSS centers with latest technology and practices. Funded by the Government of India, Jan Shikshan Sansthan aims to provide vocational training to non-literates, neo-literates as well as school dropouts in rural regions by identifying skills that have a relevant market in that region. Our UNESCO chair in gender equality and women empowerment, Dr. Bhavani Rao (Director, AMMACHI Labs) has been traveling along with a team from our parent organization, the Mata Amritanandamayi Math to manage and extend activities.

3 new JSS centers have been setup and will be managed by the Amrita team, namely JSS- Vizianagaram, AndhraPradesh, JSS- Kalahandi, Odisha, JSS- East Khasi Hills, Meghalaya. The team met with the Distric Collector in Kalahandi, Odisha. Formal meetings followed up with those in the community. Field meetings were held at Kanaka, Dhenkanal, Odisha for a project funded by NABARD, Government of India. Dr. Bhavani and team also met with the district collector and the Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) in Vizianagaram.

In Meghalaya, they met with Mrs. Pushpa Bajaj. Well known social worker for the Pmkvy skill development centers. They also met with Swami Anuragananda, Ramakrishna Mission, Cherapunjee. The team also visited Kongthong, India’s Whistling Village of Meghalaya, where every child had an ‘Unique Lullaby ID’. They also visted Shillong and Shella in Meghalaya. The team had already been to Bhubaneshwar, Odisha. In Odisha’s Dhenkanal, they visited 3 villages. They also visited Bhawanipatna and 4 other villages.

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