A Napkin of Change

Flustered first, determined later and resolute in the end, Bharti Tai’s life in a small rural village has been a cathartic ride of rollercoaster emotions; just for a piece of napkin. It defied oddities of generational embarrassment over menstruation and its befuddling aftermath. The day Bharti tai manufactured her first set of sanitary napkin with bare minimum setup, she unchained unprivileged minds mired in ignorance…period!

 Bharti Tai and her tryst with a Napkin

Till the moment of reckoning came knocking, Mrs Bharati Idate was just another homely lady rooted in rural realities. Bhari tai came to reside in Vita (Dist. Sangli, Western Maharashtra) after her marriage. Popular for its textile factories and unpopular for searing droughts, Vita is a commonplace rural location for years. As hardships mounted due to closing of her husband’s powerloom unit, Bharti tai strove hard doing odd jobs. Life would’ve been a string of non-happenings, but for Bharti tai courageously attempting to demystify awkward truths regarding the hygiene aspects of menstruation cycle. Like prevalent practice, women in her surroundings would deal with their menstrual flow with anything (sawdust, ash, unclean cloth) but a hygienic sanitary napkin. What mattered was ‘getting rid of it’ and not the science of dealing with it in a proper manner. Bharti tai herself was using an ordinary piece of cloth that made her excessively uncomfortable and repugnant towards the whole ‘mess’.
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 The Moment of Reckoning

It was not her fault; the right method just did not come her way. It came when she delivered a baby boy. The staff of maternity ward provided her a sanitary napkin, her first ever. That ordinary piece was an extraordinary revelation and rocked the bottom of her emotional being. The comfort and hygiene it brought stunned her and made her introspective about coarse methods she was used to. In that moment of reckoning, she sealed her fate to become a go-getter for the greater common good.

 A Leap of Faith

Bharti Idate did not have any streak of entrepreneurship for salable ideas. But the one to produce comfortable and affordable sanitary napkin for rural women consumed her. Knowhow was required for which Bharti tai spend some time working in a bandage factory in her neighbourhood. As she made contacts with suppliers, her confidence bolstered, prompting her to start her unit of sanitary napkin; aptly calling it ‘Care Taker’. Thus was born the Bharati Mahila Audyogik Sahakari Sanstha Limited, a co-operative of rural women in Vita in 2003. Today, with the help of a self designed machine and two women helpers, she is able to sell each packet of Care Taker (8 napkins each) at Rs 15. It’s as affordable as it can get in tiny rural villages, where other brands sell a packet in the range of Rs 27 – Rs 32. Bharti tai is not only the architect of this unit but an emancipator of unprivileged women of her kind. Her education till 12thstandard has fallen woefully short to measure her leap of faith and spirit of social entrepreneurship.

 Crowdfunding Springboard

Paucity of funds and finite resources has curtailed Bharti Tai from expanding her unit to make generic use napkins, apart from the ones currently made for post-delivery use.

Bharti tai has chosen Crowdfunding to overcome her funding impediments and take a well-intentioned dive from the mountain of ambitions.

Catapooolt is supporting her to raise funds of INR 6.5 lakhs (about USD 10,500)

The amount will cover:

  • Unit installation charges
  • Costs for training women
  • Initial raw material and
  • Door to door marketing of her product.
  • Pledge for a Napkin RevolutionBharti tai wants rural women of every type to defy the awkwardness of menstruation, with aplomb. YOU can make it happen with a salutary gesture and magnanimous heart. Let the napkin revolution engulfs the stigmatization and isolation our rural sisters face over an innocuous physiological condition.Support Now:bit.ly/affordablehygiene

Republished from Catapooolt Blog here.