GOONJ:  Not Just A Piece Of Cloth
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GOONJ: Not Just A Piece Of Cloth

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GOONJ is one of India's leading NGOs, which recycles urban cloth into valuable resources for the rural poor. Some cloth is recycled into sanitary napkins. The issue of menstruation is often a taboo in ...

GOONJ is one of India's leading NGOs, which recycles urban cloth into valuable resources for the rural poor. Some cloth is recycled into sanitary napkins. The issue of menstruation is often a taboo in India, and is seldom discussed in public. Unfortunately, millions of women suffer from various health problems due to a basic access to sanitary napkins. GOONJ has come up with a much needed ecologically friendly solution that needs to be scaled up throughout the villages of India.

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GOONJ:  Not Just A Piece Of Cloth GOONJ: Not Just A Piece Of Cloth Presentation Transcript

  • Not just a piece of cloth..
  • Menstruation: a saga of taboos..
    • The subject of menstruation is a taboo in India even amongst women, due to cultural reasons and due to lack of awareness.
    • Some common don’ts for a menstruating women :
    • Don’t
      • see birds
      • sit at the doorstep
      • go near a new born baby
      • touch stored food
      • see men before bathing
      • touch pooja ( prayers ) things
      • touch plants
      • wear flowers
      • touch infants
      • go to the temple
      • go out at noon
      • let dogs shouldn't eat leftover food
      • let lizard eat blood tissues
      • let the mother be the first to see a menarche girl
      • a widow be the first to see a menarche girl
    • Some of these myths help perpetuate the impression that menstruation is ‘ bad ’ or is a ‘ sin.’ This prevents a lack of open discussion even within family members especially in less educated communities about how to handle monthly cycles and prevent infection or health problems.
  • In 2004, GOONJ started opening up this most taboo subject in India and the team started traveling to the Indian villages to understand the reality..
  • Some harsh realities that GOONJ found..
    • In the absence of a clean cloth, poor women use the dirtiest rags during their monthly cycles, sometimes even nothing. Living with meagre resources, a clean cloth is the last priority on the minds of most village women.
    • In some parts of Rajasthan , women use sand or rags during menses. In Uttarakhand, Bihar and many other places women use ash as an absorbent.
    • In Sunderbans (West Bengal), women use the same cloth for almost a year or two.
    • Many women develop infections and have to get their uterus removed.
    • There are cases like that of a woman using an old piece of blouse which had a hook and then she died of tetanus
    • The lack of appropriate and adequate sanitation facilities prevents adolescent girls from attending school, particularly when they are menstruating.
      • Addressing a woman’s basic need
      • Turning old cotton cloth into clean cloth sanitary napkins
      • Campaigning among urban masses especially women, to raise awareness and material for cloth napkins.
      • Initiating discussion among women in the villages & slums of India, on the health and hygiene aspects of this taboo issue
      • Giving training to various NGOs to start the production of cloth sanitary napkins at a local level and helping them understand the gravity of this subject
      • Bring attention of larger world to the issue..
    The basic idea
  • Measuring cloth Washing Drying Ironing to make it moisture free Folding The final product Packing of napkins The napkin making process
  • Creating awareness on the subject through village level meetings & discussions . Exhibition and leaflets highlight the connect with a women’s health. Getting women to talk…
  • Women discussing and sharing A briefing among village women
  • Women get to experience first hand a clean cloth napkin Getting a GOONJ napkin
  • GOONJ’s Sanitary Napkin programme is reaching slums and far-flung villages of India In the field
  • Farzana was in tears when she received a pack of sanitary napkins, panties & general clothing from GOONJ : “ We hardly have food to satisfy our meal; Clothing is almost a last priority for us. But the effort made by GOONJ & Astitva has really given us a new life.” (Astitva, is a women’s group based in Uttar Pradesh and an active partner of GOONJ .) The impact
    • We have four concerns with the Indian Government’s recent scheme to provide napkins in 150 districts of India at a cost of Rs 2,000 crore (US$ 450 million) yearly.
      • Sustainability
        • At a cost of Rs 2000 crores per year, considering the inflation and the expected expansion of the project, the cost is certain to go up. Will adequate funds be channeled for this project in the future also?
      • Implementation
        • Such large scale schemes by the Government has seen massive corruption and mis-management before. Will any special measures be put in place?
      • Environment
        • There is no mention of not using plastic in the manufacture of napkins, this raises issues of disposal as well as environment degradation.
      • Education
        • The focus is only on affordability and there is no focus on education or awareness, while the study has showed that 70% of women would like to have more information on the subject.
    Our Concerns
    • Winner of several international awards;
      • World Bank’s Development Marketplace award
      • Changemaker’s Innovation award
      • Lien i3 challenge award
    • More than a million napkins distributed in the last two years alone.
    • 1,50,000 to 2,00,000 napkins produced every month.
    • 42 different grassroots organizations across 10 states of India working with GOONJ on this issue.
    • Over 150 meetings held in villages across India , talking to village women about the taboos and related health and hygiene issues. 
    • Over 70 Display cum exhibition held in the villages , highlighting good practices, health issues, taboos and superstitions around this issue.
    • More than 200 collection camps held in various metros
    • 13 Grassroots organizations (personnel) and village women trained in replicating the napkin production as an employment generation activity.
    Major Highlights of ‘Not Just A Piece of Cloth’ initiative
    • Village level meetings bring out the highly taboo subject in the open. Women talk about a subject they don’t even discuss openly with other women.
    • Napkins produced without any machines or technological inputs . Entirely manual operations employing women from nearby slums in the entire process.
    • Working across 10 states
    • Idea right from production to the last part- easily replicable in any part of developing world.
    • Give us your old cotton cloth like bed sheets, curtains, T-shirts, sarees, dupattas, towels etc.
    • Motivate exporters, hotels, hospitals & hostels in your network, to contribute their discarded cotton fabric.
    • Tell us about women forums and meetings where we can talk about this issue to build more sensitivity about this taboo subject
    • And do support the initiative financially. It’s not a popular subject, and does not come in the list of many funding agencies but it’s an important issue. Everyone – you the members of the public, institutions, agencies, corporates all are needed to help this initiative to scale up !!
    • It’s ultimately every woman’s very basic need.
    Your simple contribution..
  • Address: J-93, Sarita Vihar, New Delhi- 76 Tel : 011- 41401216, 26972351 Email : [email_address] For further info or to find out how you can help visit www.goonj.org Spread the GOONJ..