It is a widely accepted notion that the education of girls is directly connected to the incidence of poverty. The more educated a girl in a developing country is, the fewer and more healthy children she is likely to have, the more money she is likely to contribute to the family, and the more productive for her community she is likely to be. Another widely accepted fact, however, is that girls do not receive nearly as much education as boys and this is even more true after the onset of puberty. Not only do household tasks often become an expected priority of girls, but even if enrolled in school, many girls are often missing school for a reason girls in developed countries may wish they could use as an excuse to play hooky: that “time of the month.”

A common worry of nearly every female who travels abroad and staple toiletry item, sanitary pads, have a connection to poverty deeper than one may think. A lack of access to convenient and disposable sanitary pads leaves women in developing countries more prone to infections as well as feeling dehabilitated during that one weeks time. According to SHE, Sustainable Health Enterprises, of girls in Rwanda that miss school, 36% miss it because they cannot afford sanitary pads.

In order to extend the benefits that more wealthy women in developing nations receive in the form of multinational cooperation produced feminine products, A. Muruganathm spent many years relentlessly working towards a practical solution. He researched to find a way to increase access to pads for all women, however, was labeled a pervert and ostracized during the process. Despite the taunting, he pushed on.

In 2006, he perfected a machine, costing only $2,500, which produces 120 pads per minute that can be made for 1 rupee and 50 paise each (about 3 cents), without any government subsidies.1 His thought process is that while the larger companies only think in terms of gains on investment, he hopes to create a business with a moral and humanistic foundation. Another success of his efforts is that women are now able to purchase these machines and sell the pads to other women in order to create income. Thus far, access to pads making women more healthy, educated, and productive has been increased in 200 locations in India currently utilizing his sanitary napkin machine.

Market solutions such as these, while very practical on the micro level, will not solve poverty altogether. While every step helps, it is important to keep in mind the structures in place that cause for discrepancies in standards of living. Muruganathm’s production is unique, however, in that he does not see a need for a private-public partnership, and would rather see business flourish on the grassroots level. Some would say that his machine kills two birds with one stone, as it offers a route for economic development as well as addresses an immediate need of women in the developing world.

1http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/india/100519/tampons-india-health

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