Let’s face it, periods are messy business for nearly all women and girls. They can make you miserable, cause cramps, painful breasts, bloating, headache, among many other unwanted effects. In my 46 years, I have yet to hear any woman exclaim “ My period just started, how wonderful!”. Most of us just go assess our stockpile of sanitary supplies and begin the countdown to when it will be over.
But what if you’re one of the millions of girls and women without access to safe sanitary supplies? What if this monthly inconvenience was more of an exercise in terror? It was exactly that scenario of blood, sweat, and tears that has created the most unlikely of hygiene heroes.
The new film ‘PadMan’ chronicles the rise of Arunachalam Muruganantham, one of India’s greatest entrepreneurs. Inspired by his wife’s inability to procure cheap and safe sanitary napkins, in 1998 he set out to solve a problem that is more than an unsightly stain on the fabric of society.
When we look at the numbers is staggering… millions of girls around the world miss an entire week of school due to not having sanitary napkins. Infections are painfully rampant for women and girls forced to reuse old rags, and any other number of poor substitutes. We’ve heard stories of mud-packed leaves, hay, and even corn husks being deployed as a last futile attempt to stem the tide. The corn husk really defies any explanation.
Realizing there had to be an affordable solution Arunachalam Muruganantham spent several years testing multiple variations of pads for absorbency. When he realized how hard it would be to find willing user test participants due to social stigma and shame, he made himself a faux uterus, filled it with animal blood, and tested it on himself during his daily errands.
Rumor has it that he began to smell so foul from the animal’s blood, that along with his stained clothing he had become a bit of a social pariah. Even after his wife left him he persisted, intent on finishing what he started.
So what did this amount to? Was Arunachalam Muruganantham able to create a loom for the fruit of the womb? You bet he was, and it’s been manufactured and installed in dozens of communities and women’s groups all over India. Unlike the large pharma machine options that can range on average about 500k, Murag’s machine is only $950. What we love about this modest hero is his unwillingness to sell his invention to a corporate entity. He’s purposely created a solution for Indian citizens who desperately deserved better.
‘PadMan’ will be released on January 26, 2018. Maternova is looking into hosting a screening, and we’d love everyone to attend, more details will be forthcoming. Thank you, Arunachalam Muruganantham, for all he is doing for women.
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