Using cloth as a tool to open up taboo subject of menstruation..
Making clothing a matter of concern !!
About Your Organization
Country where this project is creating social impact
Is your organization a
Non‐profit/NGO/citizen sector organization
How long has your organization been operating?
More than 5 years
Has the organization received awards or honors? Please tell us about them
• Nov’10: Listed in ‘Forbes’ as one of the India’s most powerful entrepreneurs
• May’10: ‘Innovation for India’ award to GOONJ..
• March’10: Jamnalal Bajaj CFBP Award for ‘Fair Practices’
• Nov’09: ‘Cloth for Work’ wins international Lien i3 Challenge Award
• June’09: ‘NJPC’ wins Changemaker’s Innovation Award
• March 2009: CNN IBN’s ‘Real Heros’ award to Mr. Anshu Gupta in women welfare segment.
• March 2008: ‘India NGO of the year' award
• May 2007: GOONJ’s sanitary napkin project ‘Not just a piece of cloth’ wins World Bank’s Global Development Market Place Award.
• July 2007: GOONJ’s first initiative “VASTRA-SAMMAN” recognized as one of ‘The Good Practices’ in Dubai International Awards.
• 2006: Win the prestigious Changemaker’s Innovation Award, the second time, for our disaster relief initiative ‘RAHAT’.
• 2004: Prestigious Ashoka Fellowship to Anshu Gupta.
• 2004: GOONJ wins Changemaker’s Innovation Award for its “SCHOOL to SCHOOL” initiative.
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Select the stage that best applies to your solution
Established (past the previous stages and has demonstrated success)
How long have you been in operation?
Operating for more than 5 years
Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your innovation addresses? Choose up to two
The Need: What problem are you trying to solve?
Menses falls in most neglected health subjects worldwide.One of most taboo subjects,it induces a ‘culture of shame & silence'.With a complete lack of awareness about connect it has with a women’s reproductive health,even the biggest health projects don’t have budget for sanitary pads.Use of Old cloth is most common worldwide,but due to lack of basic clothing itself millions of women are forced to use sand,ash,jute bags,old papers, dry grass to even polythene during menses.We have cases where a women used a piece of blouse and died of tetanus,a lady died as a centipede entered through the grass or many women lost their uterus due to infections!! Adolescent girls are worst;relying n their peer groups for half-baked information,also a major cause for drop out of girls from schools.
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
We are using old cloth as a tool to open up the subject. Old cotton cloth lying idle in cities is used as a resource to address this basic need, focusing on critical gap in women’s health.Clean cloth pads are entry point to generate awareness on related health & hygiene issues.In cities we are involving urban women,drawing on their instinctive empathy.Use of cloth;most village women are comfortable & familiar with & reuse possibilities makes it
viable.Sustained raw material supply is ensured as cities discards cloth frequently.This nationwide intervention starts with
providing physical product but stresses on changing practices, behavior
change,education & replication.Pad is developed out of old cloth
collected from urban masses. Made with highly indigenous process at
just INR 1(2 cents),cheapest in the world,this is also becoming an income generation activity for women!!This is like a tool to teach women the value of cleanliness and bring changes in behaviour & practices.
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities
For last 13 years GOONJ channelises vast quantities of
underutilized material in urban homes to villages to address many
needs of village India.Clothing & other material is collected from
metros from corporates,schools,collages,institutions & residential
areas which reaches far flung villages of India
through our network of more than 250 grassroots partner groups. Un-wearable cotton cloth is turned into sanitary pads, reaching rural women through
same channel.Just by strengthening & spreading our present programmes,
generation, distribution & management of pad initiative is done
Four interconnected innovative aspects;
1. Providing better product; this pad get village women
to experience better product first hand, to feel the difference.
2. Behavioral change;Spread of awareness about health & hygiene
aspects tied to distribution of pads; bring about a long term
3. Supplying cloth holistically in long term: pad work is
implemented together with our other initiatives, ensuring fulfillment
of entire family’s clothing needs. Thus households have surplus cloth
available for use.
4.Teaching how to make cloth pads;village women are trained in
simple cloth pad making process so they can make it on their own as
also turn it into an income generation activity.
The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others also working to address the needs you are and what differentiates you from them. What challenges could these players pose to your success or growth?
Practical,affordable & environment friendly pads are still
on experimental level in most parts of the world.Commercial sector has
not made affordable & good pads for masses therefore village India uses all kind of bad things.Few NGOs,women’s groups have taken this as
limited activity only for their communities.Products/programmes
developed thus face sustenance challenge as raw material & logistical costs make it unviable.There is no macro analysis of problem.Connect it has with serious health hazards hasn’t translated into comprehensive remedial action.Our is a regular,large scale,affordable,easy to copy/replicate,sustainable solution due to large scale people's participation.As we take it more an idea than an organisation or project, competitor are helpful in spreading the word !!
This Entry is about (Issues)
Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world.
Many years ago in his journalism days,in Delhi
Anshu Gupta,founder GOONJ saw a rickshaw carrying abandoned dead bodies.
Bit shocked & intrigued he followed Habib’s rickshaw & started
spending time with his family to know more.Statements from Habib & his daughter shook Anshu
completely.Habib said, “In winters my work goes up” he found that
sometime he picked up 10-12 dead bodies in 24 hours,double the number
in summers!! meant more deaths on roads due to cold,inadequate
clothing.His 6 years old daughter innocently said -“When I feel
cold,I hug the dead body & sleep.It doesn’t trouble me, it doesn’t
turn around!.”This in India’s capital where people have so much stuff
in their almirahs & they don’t know who to give to. Later he found about a woman who used a blouse piece as sanitary pad & died of tetanus due to metal hook inside.Another women died in Tamil Nadu as centipede entered her body. This is how clothing and later the sanitary pads became a subject for him..
Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve
Village Women receive less health care & education bearing prime
responsibility for dealing with hunger,education,health for their family. Struggling for everyday survival,they treat their own
needs as last priority.The goal is to highlight their high-risk behavior & empowers their health
seeking behavior.Exposure & interactions on this taboo issue shows simple possibilities available to them in their daily lives.By opening up the subject and debate in urban parts we are not only making urban women more aware but they are getting involved in making a difference in lives of their village counterparts.
The aim is to use this small piece of discarded cloth in opening up the subject,create awareness and promote a practical,affordable solution to the problem of million of women across !!
What has been the impact of your solution to date?
Opened up the subject,major impact on government's policy & NGOs/agencies work
Over 2 million pads provided so far
Production capacity of a million pads.year
Over 200 meetings held across India,talking to village women about the taboos and related health and hygiene issues
75 Display cum exhibition held in the villages,highlighting good practices, health issues,taboos and superstitions around this issue.
Over 500 collection camps held in metros to sensitise urban women and to collect material.
Production process easily replicable in any part of India or the world.
Pads produced without any machines or technological inputs.Entirely manual operations employing women from nearby slums in entire process.
Tonnes of waste cloth,which would have gone in landfill sites is converted into the pads.
Potential of large scale employment to the most marginalized women in slums/villages.Right now 25 women are employed full time to work on this.
People call it the cheapest pad in the word.
What is your projected impact over the next five years?
Impact will be on 2 levels-idea & organization level
Sanitary pad to enter in list of issues in Development sector.
Help people to scale up 5 more local solutions
10 organisations,replicating by starting local production & us focusing on mentoring & capacity building.
Intensify advocacy at policy level with national & international health & development agencies.
Work towards making PHCs to become hub for information and product distribution.
Focus on going deeper to remote areas.Given growing scale,we
want to explore more avenues of vast quantities of cotton cloth.For
self sustenance we want to work on idea of urban women sponsoring
Become a voice to make sure that commercial sector think of environment and disposal before entering deep in rural market !!
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
Communicating new idea: GOONJ started with challenge of communicating
simple but new idea.Here challenge is changing mindsets built over strong cultural & social dogmas.Women’s growing awareness about their rights & needs is translating into more discussion,debate & growing demand.
Risk of generating material;risk in generating material from masses is
in forward planning.We tackle it on different levels.Napkin cloth
sponsorship,export surplus,big hospitals,hotels & scrap dealers are
some sources we are tapping.
Tackling attitudes:of people who clear their wardrobes and give useless material which eats up meager resources. Others
seriously doubt NGO’s.The showcase of work and impact and use of social media has been very useful in tackling this
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Identifying 30 grassroots groups from among our rural partners who want to focus seriously on this issue.
Make them understand gravity of issue & urgency of need.Train them on interacting with women on this taboo issue
Putting up village level awareness exhibition, village level meetings with target women so that they take it further.
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
10000 benificiary women gets 12 to 15 packs @ 5 napkin each pack spread over in 10 states
100 Schols, SHG groups, PHCs come in the network to work on this.
Target national/International media and forums to share stories and issues.
Tell us about your partnerships
Our existing rural & urban network of partner organizations is
backbone of our model.In cities we work with
corporates,institutions & individual households.Every
part of society is involved in our processes.Our stress on services
results in wide network of transporters,suppliers etc. providing
free/highly subsidized services.Identification of reliable grassroots
groups is critical in effective implementation. We build partnerships
by talking to established institutions, existing network is of about 250
partner groups- NGOs, Ashoka Fellows, panchayats etc.
Are you currently targeting other specific populations, locations, or markets for your innovation? If so, where and why?
the prime target is tribal and rural population in the remotest parts of the country.People from a few other countries are in regular touch to take up the model.It has become a part of WSSCC forums and various other international forums.
What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?
This idea is familiar to beneficiaries;it is improvisation of existing usage practices with lot of value addition.Wide scale replication & spread has been possible given our nationwide network.Market products
are un-affordable for village women.GOONJ
offers them more appropriate option,preventing bigger environmental problem of disposal.Most ideasfail to reach their potential due to financial constraints. This programme deals with frequently discarded cloth in urban homes. Unlike other efforts for limited audiences this is nationwide intervention,stressing on education &
replication rather than providing physical product forever.It works
together with our other programmes addressing bigger issue of
clothing,in turn ensuring regular supply of raw material..
Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list
Turning it into income generation activity can be explored by women
SHG’s, micro finance groups & we share our knowledge & provide raw
material.We can collaborate with experiments in different parts of
India/world to better work & product.Going deeper in far flung areas
means rising costs;we need pro bono services & support to reach more