Menstrual Health Start-ups – Anchoring a social revolution

Menstrual HealthMenstrual Health Startups look at solving much ignored problems that all women face, especially among the rural and socioeconomically backward populace.

During my sessions with startup enthusiasts across the country, I try to inspire them to look for a worthy problem to solve rather than copy a profitable but hackneyed venture.

Problem solving endeavors in spaces of waste management, solar energy, education in rural areas, emergency health services, etc., are breaking new grounds and giving new meaning to social innovation.

Menstrual Health Startups are creating a much needed but ignored innovation space. They are extremely welcomed because:

Only 12% Indian women have access to menstrual products

According to a 2011 survey by A.C. Nielsen, only 12% of women in India use menstrual products. Use of sanitary napkins is unimaginable by a majority of Indian women due to its cost. There are certain startups like Sarala Designs, co-founded by Suhani Mohan which manufacture economically priced sanitary napkins as well as vending machines.

Menstrual man of India, an amazing social innovator, Arunachalam Muruganantham made a sanitary pad machine patented under his name.

He has been using these machines to spread the use of sanitary napkins in the interior most rural areas of poor states in India.

I wonder why no Government initiative or a startup scales it up. Can’t the disruptive work done by likes of Suhani and Muruganantham be quickly scaled up to reach the 88% of Indian women population suffering every month

Poor menstrual hygiene leads to most reproductive diseases

Around 70% of all reproductive diseases in India are caused by poor menstrual hygiene. Awareness about reasons behind menstruation is very low and it is considered a big taboo to talk about it. A long list of cultural don’ts are faced by girls during this period. It not only causes physiological problems but also psychological trauma for girls and women.

They are considered impure and outcastes during these days and the sources to give right information and purposeful awareness are negligible.

Aditi Gupta and her husband Tuhin founded Menstrupedia, a portal with a comic book to cover everything around menstruation. Their path breaking work through menstrupedia.com has helped thousands of girls and women to be aware about this natural process which has nothing to be ashamed about.

Products like sanitary pad incinerator have demand and can go a long way in managing waste properly.

Tracking periods can help in preventing/planning a pregnancy

For better management of time and health, LoveCycles, founded by John Paul, is an easy period tracker which predicts symptoms, moods and can also guide about days most likely to lead to pregnancy. It helps busy women to get reminders about pills or any medication related to the premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Not only this, it allows women to keep a history of each monthly cycle which helps them to gauge any change indicative of any disease.

Such innovations will be landmarks in influencing health of women and giving them a sense of owning their own bodies, its natural processes with confidence and ease.

These are not just innovations but steps towards a social revolution.

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Image source: rural Indian woman by Shutterstock.

This article was first published by www.womensweb.in on 07th Apri, 2016http://www.womensweb.in/2016/04/menstrual-health-start-ups-social-revolution/

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