Meet This PadMan Who Makes ‘India’s Cheapest Pads’, Helps Millions

Anshu Gupta and his NGO Goonj provide safe and reusable cloth pads to women from the financially weaker sections.

2 min read

The death of one woman led him to help millions of menstruating women across India so that they don’t end up the same path. No, there’s no movie on him yet. But PadMan Anshu Gupta and his organisation Goonj have an inspiring story, for which he has received the Magsaysay Award.

They’ve been working since more than a decade to provide safe, reusable and cheap cloth pads to women from the financially weaker sections.

In 2004-2005, when we were in Firozabad, a woman shared a story that her relative used a piece of blouse which had a hook during her periods and she died of tetanus.
Anshu Gupta, Founder, Goonj

Millions of women across the globe still use things like sand, ash, jute bads, dirty pieces of cloth, and even cow dung as protection during menstruation. Yes, it’s 2018. Yes, they are still forced to use those things. And yes, lack of menstrual hygiene can lead to their death as well.

Many women use the dirtiest pieces of cloth. While travelling across the country we found that sometimes even 2-3 women use the same cloth, and sometimes the entire village uses the same cloth.

In 2011, a survey conducted by AC Nielsen revealed that only 12% of Indian women use sanitary pads.

This, however, is not a women’s issue, it’s a human issue.
Anshu Gupta

So, his NGO Goonj began making cloth pads for women who needed them. How? Using old, clean clothes sent by the public. They have collection centres across the country and one can even contribute online.

These cloth pads are safe, reusable, environment-friendly, and cheap! They call it ‘MY Pad’.

Gupta’s employed women from nearby villages to make the pads. They’re made through a meticulous 8-step process.

  1. Collect the cloth sent in
  2. Select good cotton fabrics
  3. Wash and dry
  4. Cut to shape
  5. Iron
  6. Roll into a pad
  7. Press against a magnet to check for metal
  8. Pack my pad!

It’s pressed against the magnet to check if any metal item like a hook or zip is accidentally left inside the pad, as that could have the person wearing it.

It can be reused by throwing the small pieces stuffed inside, and washing the big cloth which makes the cover to use it again.

Goonj also organises ‘Chuppi Todo’ awareness meets in villages because the idea of Goonj was not to sell products, but to talk about it”.

If you think that by giving a pad you can solve the problem, you’re wrong. Conversation and serious thought is needed, instead of just clicking pictures.
Anshu Gupta

What’s his menstrual mission?

If the day comes when every woman has access to a clean piece of cloth, I’m happy.

Anshu Gupta and his team are the 'bloody champs’ we need! Want to help? You can send your old clothes to Goonj.

Video Editor: Ashish Maccune

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Topics:  Menstruation   Sanitary Pads   Period 

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