Anita, a 36-year-old cook who works in three households in Delhi, uses cloth during her periods. "I have a daughter and a younger sister to support. There's no way I can afford to buy pads for all three of us," says Anita.
In India, about 50 percent of women aged 15-24 years still use cloth for menstrual protection, according to the 2021 National Family Health Survey (NFHS) report. This is despite research indicating that unsterilised cloth can make the user susceptible to urinary tract infections, HPV infections, and cervical cancer.
Then why do women still use it?
Here's the flipside: On average, a sanitary napkin costs Rs 6-10. A packet of seven pads costs Rs 45. This might seem cheap, but in the larger scheme of things, the recurring 'cost' an Indian woman from the lower-income group has to bear for a sanitary napkin is so much more.