Source: e-Book on New Begining released by the Prime Minister on Civil Services Day 2017
The picturesque Tirap, situated amid verdant valleys is one of the oldest tribal Districts of Arunachal Pradesh. Located in the southeastern part of the state, it borders with the state of Nagaland and Assam in the south-west, and the international border with Myanmar in the east and District border with Changlang in the north and Longding in the south-east. The District is declared as a disturbed area under AFSPA Act, 1958 due to NSCN insurgency.
The entire area of the District is covered with high hills and deep gorges. It is a string of beautiful mountains of moderate height (2000-4000 ft) covered with lush green forests throughout the year. The District is sparsely populated with a total population of about 56,000. The tribes in the District are poor and mainly dependent upon Jhum cultivation and subsistence agriculture for their livelihood. Women and girls of this hilly region live in abysmal conditions. Almost 70% of them use scrap cloth to check their menstrual ‑flow.
The initiative of Low-Cost Sanitary Pads in the District was taken based on a survey conducted by the District Administration. This was done in collaboration with North Eastern Region Community Resource Management Project (NERCORMP) which is a livelihood and rural development initiative aimed at transforming the lives of the poor and marginalised tribal community of Northeast region of India under DoNER.
The survey in 27 villages covering four different subdivisions was done to find out how women in Tirap District deal with their monthly menstrual cycle. The survey report recorded that more than 70% of the women in the villages used scrap clothes or nothing during their monthly periods. From the total 852 women respondents, 604 of them used clothes and 231 used napkins of various brands. Also, the survey recorded that women use clothes mainly for three reasons; ignorance, financial constraints and non-availability of napkins in the villages.
The response to this challenge was found in the form of a Low-Cost Sanitary Pad Production Machine invented by Shri Arunachalam Muruganantham of Coimbatore who is known as the pioneer of sanitary pad movement in India. A project under Low-Cost Sanitary Pad initiative was undertaken in the District with an initial fund of INR 5 lakh. The production unit was brought from South India to Tirap District and was set up in the District headquarters.
A woman SHG from the District was chosen to run the unit, the women involved in the production were trained by master trainers from the manufacturer. The project was launched in July 2016, and the sanitary pads produced by the unit was called ‘We Care’. They were available for sale from mid-August 2016. e pads are UV ray sterilised and adhere to BIS standard for sanitary napkins. Another additional advantage is that the material used for making these pads is fully biodegradable and decomposes naturally within a short span of time. Thus it is environment-friendly, and disposal is convenient.
Finally, the women of Tirap are feeling empowered, clean and beautiful.