Maharashtra: Tribal women make sanitary napkins in Palghar village to break migration cycle
Menstruation may be a taboo subject in the predominantly tribal district of Palghar in Maharashtra, but for the women of the Katkari community in the village of Dabhon, making sanitary napkins guarantees a sense of permanence and a stable income.
Women from the Katkari community, which is categorized as a Primitive Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG), generally migrate to different parts of the state and country to work in brick kilns or as farm laborers, but an initiative under Integrated Tribal Development Projects (ITDP) gave them the opportunity to earn a living without having to move from place to place.
The brainchild of Subdivision Magistrate Dahanu Aseema Mittal, the project was funded by the Maharashtra Government’s Manav Vikas Mission (Human Development Mission) and implemented by ITDP Dahanu. “Women from the Katkari community used to migrate for work. We gave them extensive training and now they have started making sanitary napkins. We look forward to seeing a major change in their lives,” said Mittal, who is the head of ITDP Dahanu.
The women, who are part of the Pragati Mahila Utpadak Gat self-help group, were trained over a six-month period to learn the process of making biodegradable sanitary napkins, she said. While 10 women are currently engaged in the activity, many more are expected to join the group and the project will also be extended to other parts of the district, the official said.
The Neevjivan Foundation, an NGO, has trained the women in the practical aspects of the business and they are now manufacturing sanitary napkins under the “Pragati” brand. Proteek Kundu, the organization’s director, said women in the Katkari community are usually away from home for eight months a year and the project was started to introduce them to jobs they could pursue without having to travel for work.
“With the active support of ITDP Dahanu, we began to engage with women and introduce them to various vocations. In fact, they themselves came up with the idea of making sanitary pads because of the challenges with menstrual hygiene and other health issues they face during menstruation,” Kundu said.
The foundation works with the main objective of creating sustainable livelihood opportunities for tribal women and youth based in rural Maharashtra so that they do not have to migrate to cities in search of work.
The women received training in teamwork, identifying potential customers, conducting market research, product pricing and marketing, accounting and bookkeeping, among other concepts. said Kundu. ITDP funds were used to purchase machinery, raw materials, packaging materials and other related infrastructure to start the small-scale business, he said. “We sincerely hope that this project will help this group of women and their associates settle in their village and help stop their migration to the cities,” Kundu said.