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Why Your Tampon/Pad Needs to Last – Ryanair now to remove toilets from its planes

I think we always want a pad or tampon (whether disposal or reusable) to last a reasonable amount of time. After all, a menstruating woman probably doesn’t want to spend every 30 minutes checking to see if her product is already full. However, a new airline is going to put your feminine hygiene product to the test! Ryanair, according to the article below, is planning to greatly reduce or eliminate on-board bathrooms. Hell, even someone who is not menstruating, has weak bladder issues or any other medical condition that would be critical to ensure that toilets be available would find this a cause for concern. Even a healthy human needs to expel their bodily byproducts once in a while, so how could someone even think about removing something like washrooms – as limited as they usually are already on flights – from their planes? This almost sounds like it’s inhumane, as legal and as much of a right they have to do so on their aircraft.

Of course not having this carrier here in Canada, it’s of little concern to me other than the amusement factor, but what about for the places who DO have Ryanair as a carrier, how receptive will customers be for a mere few dollar discount on their flight ticket to have a basic human amenity removed from them? Yes, there are countries who don’t have fancy washrooms or an actual commode to sit on, BUT at the very least, they have some spot they can go to do their business. Being up in the air, there doesn’t leave much room to take care of one’s personal business, so that‘s even worse than 3rd world countries. Short-haul flight, an hour or two without having to go to the washroom? Sure, MAYBE. But anything longer than 4 hours and I think that pushes people’s threshold of comfort to go urinate, defaecate or change their incontinence or menstrual products. Although I suppose considering the savings on the washroom, they may need to begin offering fecal-incontinence supplies for all passengers as compensation.

I could understand airlines cutting costs by making food/drinks an on-board paid purchase, pillows and blankets a paid luxury or even asking fliers to bring their own toilet paper to the washroom – but the availability of washrooms on a flight is crucial and I think is highly unfair to those whose needs for washroom relates to a medical condition. Even if your pad or tampon could absorb for a period (heh) of time, I know that sitting on one’s menstrual blood or having a tampon plugged up there continuously can be uncomfortable, so being able to change a saturated product is not just to prevent leakage, but for an overall feel of freshness. Sooner or later, there will be a charge for a life-jacket in the event of an emergency on a plane. Didn’t pay for your life-jacket ahead of time or don’t have cash on you when the plane is sinking? Well too bad, go die.

Official article and comments located @ http://www.everydaymoney.ca/2011/10/ryanair-now-to-remove-toilets-from-its-planes.html || The article below is NOT written by me nor owned by me in any way.

Ryanair now to remove toilets from its planes

We’ll admit, we kind of have a fascination with Ryanair here at EverydayMoney.ca.

Stock-photo-15643861-toilet-in-the-planeWhy? Well, can’t say for sure. Not only does Ryanair not fly to Canada, it doesn’t even fly to North America, meaning only backpackers and Euro travellers have ever sat on one of the outfits Boeing 737-800’s.

But much in the way that Entourage  is considered “lifestyle porn,” Ryanair is a kind of airline porn, in that the headlines it makes are irresistible to anyone that’s ever flown on a plane.

Now, after a laundry list of budget saving initiatives we’ll discuss below, Ryanair is proposing its latest strategy to slash fares for budget travellers: removing  toilets from its planes.

About a year-and-a-half after the Dublin-based airline sparked controversy with its move to charge passengers to use its washrooms, bombastic Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary now just wants to do away with his loos, nearly altogether.

O’Leary says he’s in talks with Boeing to remove two of the three toilets found on-board Ryanair’s planes. Doing so would allow adding six more seats to its cabins.

Ryanair, which carries 75 million passengers a year, flies as many as 189 passengers each flight. If three toilets (or one toilet per 63 people) are brought down to one, and six more seats are included, that leaves just one can for 195 travellers. Legally speaking, according to the Independent, there is no legal stipulation for an airline to provide even one washroom on its aircrafts.

In O’Leary’s defence, once more, he always brings these wild ideas public for the benefit of the passenger. No matter what he proposes, he always insists, at least, it’s all for lowering fares.

“(Removing two of three toilets) would fundamentally lower air fares by about five per cent for all passengers,” he says, noting that about three bucks of a typical $65 ticket might be saved if more seats can be added to Ryanair’s cabins.

In previous bids to bring down airfare, or at least cater to Ryanair’s idea of what travellers want, the airline has floated the idea of flying with just one pilot per flight, adopting standing-room only trips and even child-free flights, which Ryanair says are coming this fall.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money

Posted at 12:31 PM in Consumer News, Current Affairs, Travel

You may need to start working your menstrual schedule around the next time you want to take the plane. This might also be a good opportunity for pad/tampon makers to start using this airline as a test of their product(s). I guess with this airline, men wearing pads won’t be such a foreign idea anymore…

If anything, I’d fly on this carrier just so I can make a point by shitting and pissing all over their seat or in any spot I can find so that they can enjoy the cleanup and smell.

Absent? No. Just busy!

Hiho Everyone,

Hope people don’t think I’m dead or something… no, I’m still alive. Work has been busy lately and it has been exhausting. My blog is just a fun way for me to relax and to share myself with the world and so I don’t treat it like a job where I feel obligated to update it all the time. I haven’t ran out of period-topics yet, trust me, I have a huge list of it on my “to-talk-about” scratchpad. I still see a great influx of unique visitors every day and I’m happy about it and hope there’ll be more contributions and visitors to come. I want to keep this blog exciting and on-topic of course – although everyone has those busy-times in their life and this is one of them for me!

Over the summer, I get reduced working hours and it tends to be lazy. However, whenever September starts and the school-year rolls in, sometimes I feel like my head is going to explode. On the good news about that is this year, my contract for my project manager position has been extended and they’re trying to make it a permanent position (rather than a temporary, where is can be terminated any time past the contract dates). As of September this year, our pay has gone up as a result of negotiated contracts… it’s not much, but in an economy like this and where many other sectors are freezing wages, let alone increase them, I consider myself lucky (or well to even be employed for that matter). As of October 1st, it has been one full year that my “new” job has been effective and I earned yet another jump in the pay-grid. It’s not really a lot of money after taxes and such, probably around an extra $4,000 or so combined.

Suffice to say, this new position comes without the manual labour of being in the field, but is still strenuous on the brain (not that I claim to be smart) and is a lot of politics-balancing game – you want to keep everyone happy while maintaining control. I definitely don’t want to revert to my old position because it’s way too much labour-intensive work and being in the office has its advantages (and disadvantages), along with the money that comes with an upgraded position. Hopefully it’ll go permanent soon so I can feel secure, although I still hold my prior permanent position – much more secure than most private-sector job shifts. I’ve been handling a lot of projects lately and it isn’t just a matter of “lots” but more of “all at the same time” and I swear this is probably what’s going to prevent me from getting Alzheimer’s given how much I have to keep my brain active and trying not to forget stuff. I will admit, even with the aid of my iPhone calendar, written notes and such – I still have managed to pull off some near-misses and forget an appointment/meeting. What I need is a secretary… haha, but that’s only something the manager gets!

All this work has not been without its reward… other than the money. The smiling faces I get to see and the plethora of “thank yous” really brightens up the day. For those who work in any service-related industry, you’ll definitely know that being appreciated is one thing that never ceases to make a bad day good. When I go home each day, as tired as I may be, I feel a sense of accomplishment… something I haven’t felt in a while because most of the work I’ve done during our downtime has been less-than-a-challenge and I’m one of those people who need to “do something grand” to feel as if I’m going somewhere in my life. I won’t lie that money is still an important thing to me, but if I’m going to earn money anyways while doing my job – I would certainly like the recognition, prestige and fulfillment to come with it. I’ll admit any moment that compared to many private-sector workers, we really have it easy here. I remember sitting there and talking to one of the accountants at our organization and she told me that I should really be recommending government jobs to my girlfriend (that’s what they refer to bebe as… oh well, easier on the mouth than referring to her by something else) because she really regrets not going government sooner in her life, wasting many of it out in the private sector. I don’t disagree that private sector is really “where the money is at” most of the time, but I guess it also depends on how far you really want to climb, whether you have the inhibitions to do it and what kind of lifestyle you really want. Government jobs are potentially the greatest “family-friendly” jobs ever – you don’t have to give up your life just to earn your next pay. I’m always on the look-out anyways for bebe, so when she comes back to job-hunt again, I will certainly check with my accounting friends in the government and see what they can scrounge up. Luckily, we have a CRA building right in the city we live in, which may be a great match for bebe’s line-of-work.

What surprized me over the past 2 weeks the most was that my boss has really been polishing me up. The other day I only casually mentioned about wanting one of those new rolling-laptop bags because I “though they were cool” and then the next day when I opened my office door in the morning (my eyes still half closed), I found a $120 rolling laptop bag sitting on my desk. This past Friday, I needed a memory stick to do a transfer of a large project I was working on and he asked me to follow him to the storage cabinet. Other than handing me a memory key which he said I could keep, he also gave me a gift for “all the hard work I’ve put in lately” a 2-TB Network Storage Device. This was a true professional-series file server and I was just thinking about what the hell I’m going to do with it, so I decided this weekend’s project would be to set it up so that every computer in my house (and that’s lots of it) – will backup to this device on a regular basis. For those who have ever had their computer crash and lost data, they’ll know how much having a proper backup means! While I was doing the setup on the device, I decided to hop online to check the price…. the “gift” he gave me is worth $499.99! Well you know what? Even though my job doesn’t pay much comparatively and in an industry where we are not eligible for bonuses or anything (since we don’t generate revenue per se), he definitely knows how to find other ways of giving us bonuses, even if it’s not in a cash-form. I had a second thought is that had I not unpacked it and begun using it, I probably could’ve sold it for $400… but sometimes it’s nice to keep things around that people give you – call it a… sentimental value.

This is an interesting thing I heard on the radio… looked it up and wanted to repost a written article:

SLEEP LESS…AND LIVE LONGER

Story Image

Saturday October 2,2010

By Jo Willey

WOMEN who get between five and six-and-a-half hours sleep a night could live longer, research claims.

Less than five hours a night is probably not enough and eight hours is probably too much, insist experts.

A team, led by Professor Daniel Kripke, revisited his research carried out between 1995 and 1999 at the University of California, San Diego.

That earlier study, part of the Women’s Health Initiative, monitored 459 women aged between 50 and 81 to determine if sleep duration can be linked to mortality.

Of the original participants, 444 were located and evaluated. Eighty-six of those had died. Prof Kripke, whose findings are published in Sleep Medicine journal, said: “Women who slept less than five hours a night or more than 6.5 hours were less likely to be alive at the 14-year follow-up.”

He added that the study should calm fears about people not getting enough sleep.

I have to shamefully admit that I used to question bebe about her sleeping habits… I mean, I know university life is hard and all, but she used to sleep some awkward hours… either working late into the night and then waking up in the afternoon and to me, that was a bit weird. Even when I attend post-secondary, I never had such awkward sleeping patterns, but hey, to each their own. However, what worried me the most wasn’t about the weird patterns she slept, but I was worried about her health by not getting enough good rest. I can say surely that it was a concern for her well-being and health, not because I minded the fact she slept at odd hours. Guess I have to admit now that she is right and I am wrong. According to the article, as long as she gets 5-6 hours of restful sleep, then her body will function great!

But anyways… I feel guilty as of last night. I know in my heart I’m dedicated and loyal to bebe. I don’t know what happened last night, but for once in a long-long-long time.. I had a dream about a girl, but the girl wasn’t bebe. I’m not used to dreaming about any other girl other than her and hell, I don’t even have feelings for the girl who was in the dream, so that’s not an issue about my mind telling me something. Such a weird thing… and yes, I know sometimes dreams are absolutely insignificant but I feel guilty. I don’t like OR want my dreams to contain girls in it other than bebe, because I am 100% hers! I should be thinking about her when I’m eating, at work and even sleeping and of no other girl. I’m of course totally exaggerating this over the case of a single night’s dream, but it definitely felt awkward. I mean a few years ago, I would’ve loved nothing more but have random dreams of beautiful women – but now, it almost seems like I’ve lost the inhibition for all other women. It’s not that I’m turning gay or dislike sweet-talking girls, but it just isn’t the same magnetic and pounding feeling I have on other girls compared to bebe. I can’t understand why I felt so sad over it… It’s almost like I cheated on her or something 😆 even when I haven’t even done anything… 😛 I get way too worked up about this stuff, haha.

Speaking of sleep.. I’m going to sleep night – so nighty night!

P.S just the other day, I noticed that MiM already has 100,000 unique page hits! OMG… and not even a year old – so thanks to all my visitors for making this place a success!

Can YOU Live on $18,000 a Year? I Sure as Hell Can’t.

This entry is definitely not “on-topic” of my blog theme, but after reading it, I really thought it was worthy of being posted. Please note that everything between the quotes have been dumped directly from the news article and I take no credit for the contents. A lot of the times, I consider my financial situation. I ask myself, am I making enough? Am I saving enough? Am I reducing my quality-of-life by being too frugal? If I spend more, does that equate to my happiness? Am I spending on the right things? Do I think too much before I spend? Do I have money for a rainy day? Am I truly keeping reliable spending records? Am I overestimating how much I really have available to use?

I’m sure I’m not the only person who thinks of these things on a regular basis. Suffice too say, I am not in a situation where I must watch every penny that goes out, but certainly, it is a wise thing to be wary of where a person spends their money. Unlike one point in my life, I know that earning money is quite difficult. Maybe for some, you can sit on your ass and money is being earned every second, but that is not the case for me. Every dollar I earn is from sweat, blood and tears (metaphorically).

Feel free to check out the original entry on MSN.CA by clicking on the link which I embedded into the title of the article below. This is amazing… I really wish I could live a comfortable lifestyle and only spend that much! Imagine how much money I could put away every year – sheesh. Right now, I’m pretty content with living within my means, but I always want to strive and become more efficient. After all, there’s always space for improvement!

By Liz Pulliam Weston, June 16, 2010

Living on $18,000 a year — by choice

Meet three people who live on that amount (or much less) while following their dreams. They’re thrifty, sure, but also content.

The term “low-income” is usually a synonym for “poor.” But I just interviewed three people who wouldn’t use that word to describe themselves, even though they live on $18,000 a year or less — in two of the cases, much less — without going into debt.

Their ages are 25, 44 and 60. They’re all college-educated and have chosen to live frugally so they can pursue their own interests.

Their stories are relevant for a couple of reasons. First, they show what’s possible when you let go of consumerism and the hamster wheel of spending too much and then having to work to pay off your debts.

Second, their thrifty habits offer lessons on how you may wind up having to live if you don’t get cracking on building up your retirement savings. That figure, $18,000, is about what you’d get over a year if one were to draw average U.S. Social Security benefits (now about $1,200 a month) and tapped 4% of a $100,000 nest egg.

(Four percent is usually considered a “sustainable” withdrawal rate, meaning you’re unlikely to run out of money before you die. The $100,000 nest egg at retirement age may be a stretch for some; Employee Benefit Research Institute surveys indicate half of all U.S. workers have less than $25,000 saved (.pdf file).)

Here’s who these three frugal folks are:

Tyler Tervooren, 25. Until recently, Tervooren earned $56,000 a year as a construction manager. But he lives so thriftily in Portland, Ore. — his expenses are about $14,000 a year — that he was able to save the bulk of his salary. He’s now enrolled in a state program that allows people to collect unemployment benefits while they launch their own businesses — in Tervooren’s case, a blog called Advanced Riskology that encourages people to take more risks in their lives.

“Since I earned so much but spent so little, the amount of unemployment insurance I get covers all of my living expenses and actually allows me to still save a little bit,” Tervooren explained. “My savings cushion can support me for almost four years — (even) until I’m 30, if I need it to — before I have to start earning money again.”

Nancy Tudor, 44. Tudor earns about $10,000 a year from two part-time jobs, and she says it’s enough to meet her needs. She’s earned more in the past — she recently returned from a job teaching Renaissance history in London that paid about $30,000 a year — but prefers her simpler life in Albuquerque, N.M.

“I had the apartment overlooking the Thames and the flat-screen TV. It just felt really empty,” Tudor said. “I decided to come home to the desert and be a lot simpler.”

Carol Holst, 60. Once upon a time, Holst was married to a corporate executive and raising two daughters in Beverly Hills, Calif. When the marriage ended two decades ago, she turned down the court-ordered alimony, figuring she didn’t need the money but that he did.

“It would have reduced his lifestyle and wouldn’t have changed mine,” Holst said. “I’d still be living in a one-bedroom apartment in Glendale, and he’d be cursing me.”

Holst said she’s figured out how much is “enough” and lives happily on the $18,000 she nets from her part-time job as an office administrator. She enjoys the work but really likes the time it allows for her true passion, which is sharing what she’s learned about voluntarily simplicity. From the bedroom of her apartment, Holst runs the website Postconsumers.com, which promotes the idea that you don’t have to buy to be happy.

All three credit their parents for helping to instil the ideals of thrift and careful money management. Tudor also remembers grandparents who talked about the Great Depression and a prevailing ethic “that if you wanted something, you saved up for it.”

That includes education. Tervooren attended an in-state university with inexpensive tuition for residents, and he worked several jobs to pay for it. Tudor got a master’s degree on a scholarship that included student housing and a $1,000-a-month stipend, which was enough to cover her expenses and those of her now-grown daughter.

Tudor asked the girl, who was 6 at the time, to identify what was most important to her, explaining that they didn’t have money to buy everything they wanted.

“She wanted money to buy books . . . and to take dance lessons,” Tudor remembers. So Tudor carefully budgeted money to cover those expenses. Tudor believes that explaining their financial situation and soliciting her daughter’s input staved off demands for more stuff.

“She understood,” Tudor says. “It wasn’t ‘I want, I want, I want’ all the time.”

The three have other things in common that allow them to live, and save, on tiny incomes:

Cheap housing. Holst has a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Glendale, Calif., that costs her $780 a month. Tervooren shares a four-bedroom home with his girlfriend and four friends, splitting the $1,200 rent six ways. Tudor rents a room in a retired couple’s home, sharing the upstairs bathroom with another tenant, for $400 a month including WiFi and utilities.

By contrast, the typical single person spends $1,074 a month on housing, while couples spend an average $1,521 and families with kids spend $1,947, according to the latest Consumer Expenditure Survey of the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Renting is often a lot cheaper than owing, and sharing a home with other people can lower your costs still further. Homeownership is tough to pull off on a low income unless your mortgage is equally tiny or paid off. You also would need to be protected from big property-tax increases, either because home values don’t grow much in your area or because such taxes are capped, as they are in California. Even then, you have to find a way to pay for repairs and maintenance, which can total thousands of dollars a year.

Cheap transportation. Holst owns an 8-year-old, paid-for Prius that costs her about $1,500 a year, including insurance, maintenance and fuel. Tervooren has a 20-year-old pickup that he’s learned to maintain and repair himself, but he says he usually walks or bikes wherever he needs to go, spending less than $1,200 a year on transportation. Tudor doesn’t own a car and instead uses Albuquerque’s bus system.

By comparison, the typical American household spends $8,604 a year to finance, fuel, repair, maintain and insure a car or cars, according to the Consumer Expenditure Survey.

Cheap thrills. The three keep a handle on the other costs that tend to bust the budget, including clothing, technology and food. Clothes come from thrift stores, and all three cut their own hair. Holst has broadband Internet access and cable TV but no cell phone. Tervooren does without television.

“I make a hobby out of finding hobbies that I can do for free,” Tervooren said. That keeps him “from having any need for the distraction of a TV and its expensive cable service.”

Eating out is not a big part of the budget for the two women. Holst budgets $30 a week for food. Tudor spends even less — $99 a month — deducting the costs of dinners out from the total so she knows how much she has left to spend.

Tervooren’s spending on food — about $350 a month — is closer to the U.S. average spent by single people. He and his girlfriend take advantage of local theatre pubs that offer drinks, dinner and a movie for a reasonable price.

“I don’t try to cut a lot of costs on food,” Tervooren said. “I like it too much.”

The trio diverge in how they handle another budget buster for many U.S. households: health care.

Holst has health insurance through her part-time job but doesn’t have dental insurance; she budgets $1,000 a year for dental care. Tudor is lucky enough to live next to a teaching university, which offers dramatically discounted health care to low-income residents.

“A visit to the doctor costs $5. A visit to the emergency room costs $25,” Tudor said.

Tervooren had health insurance at his job, but now goes bare and hopes he doesn’t get sick. It’s a risky choice, because one accident or illness could result in crippling bills.

You may not want to live like these folks, but you could still learn a few things from them. Such as:

* You’ve got to know where the money is going. All three know exactly how much they spend on housing, utilities, transportation, food — you name it. Their money doesn’t slip through their fingers but instead is carefully and consciously deployed. Tracking what you spend is a great way to become conscious about your money and whether your spending reflects what you really want most from life.

* A lot of the costs we think of as “fixed” really aren’t. If you want to improve your finances in the long run and save more for retirement, then consider reducing big expenses like housing and transportation.

* Debt can be a trap. A moderate amount of home or student loan debt can help you get ahead, but those who want to live on less tout the importance of being debt-free so they’re not shackled to payments. At the very least, you should be getting rid of your toxic debt, such as credit card balances, because they erode your financial well-being.

* A lot depends on your attitude. I emerged from these interviews with a big smile on my face. These three people were so delighted with their lives — and excited about the future — that it was positively contagious. I don’t think I’ll ever live on as little as they do, but knowing how happily they do so makes the prospect of living on a shoestring a lot less scary.

Meet India’s Tampon King

Oh yay, I managed to squeeze something in! The guest are outside watching Ip Man 2, so I had time to do a very small update! 😀

Found this news article… absolutely amazing. I discovered this article as it was posted by “Scoo” @ Kayo’s FF2. All credits and acknowledgments remain that of the article author as I have made no additions/modifications to the content posted in between the quoted areas.

———————–

Critics called A. Muruganantham a “psycho” and “pervert.” Who’s laughing now?

By Jason Overdorf – GlobalPost

Published: May 20, 2010 06:46 ET
A chandelier made of tampons, entitled “The Bride” and created by Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos, hangs at an arts festival in Venice, June 9, 2005. (Chris Helgren/Reuters)

NEW DELHI, India — Not long ago, women in the small south Indian town of Coimbatore were convinced that 47-year-old A. Muruganantham was some kind of pervert.

After a failed attempt with his wife and sisters and a cockeyed do-it-yourself effort with a football bladder full of goat’s blood, he’d finally hit upon a surefire way to test the low-cost sanitary napkin he was developing for India’s poor. He was passing out free pads to college girls and collecting their used napkins for study. And he had a storeroom full of them. When his mother saw it, she burst into tears and packed her things to move in with his sister.

“Everybody claimed I am a psycho, [that] I am using this as a trump card to get close to girls,” said Murugantham, who taught himself English in the course of his research — partly to get past the telephone answering systems he encountered when he called U.S. suppliers. “Before going across that automatic, it will cost 300 and 400 rupees. The moment the operator starts speaking, it will cost 300 and 400 rupees. Then the person will speak in slang English, ‘OK,’ because this is a material that is only used by big companies.”

Nobody thinks he’s a psycho anymore.

In 2006, Muruganantham, a high school dropout, perfected a machine for making low-cost sanitary napkins against all odds. Along the way he’d taught himself English, recruited local college professors to help him draft letters and surf the web for suppliers, worn panties (not to mention a sanitary pad and a football bladder full of blood), and spent many times the cost of his TVS Motors moped on laboratory analyses. He even invented an alter ego to get past the gatekeepers at the U.S. firms that supplied the pine wood-based cellulose — not cotton — that he discovered was the raw material he needed.

“The moment they hear that somebody is calling from some remote place, in India, they will ask, ‘Who are you?’ So I said I am a millionaire in Coimbatore. We are going to start the napkin company, so we want raw materials,” said Muruganantham.

Eventually, he triumphed. Capable of producing around 120 pads per hour, the machine Murugantham developed costs only about $2,500 — a tiny fraction of the hundreds of thousands of dollars that Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and Procter & Gamble (P&G) spend on their plants. And while output of 120 pads an hour hardly offers much in the way of economies of scale, Muruganantham’s invention has created its own business model for small “self help groups” of low-income women — creating jobs that earn them twice what they made as ordinary laborers.

“It is an innovative way of addressing the issue of female hygiene and is accessing a market that the Kotex product made by Kimberly-Clark currently does not access,” said a spokesman for Kimberly-Clark.

But even as Muruganantham has intrigued multinationals, earned accolades from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (Madras) and the National Innovation Foundation and inked a deal with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to supply his machines to women’s self-help groups in Africa, a controversial Indian government scheme threatens to squash his grassroots movement.

According to local newspaper reports, the government is finalizing plans to supply free and “highly subsidized” sanitary napkins to India’s poor. The program is being designed to cover 200 million rural women, using 100 sanitary napkins each per year, at an estimated cost of around $450 million. No details are available yet regarding the supplier, but in India, as in the rest of the world, virtually the only major manufacturers of sanitary napkins are multinationals P&G, J&J and Kimberly-Clark.

“This is a ‘first of kind’ program where public-private partnership is being explored to bring high quality products to rural poor at affordable rates,” said the Kimberly-Clark spokesman. “The proposed model would envisage a complete reworking of the value chain to drive costs down. The intent is for the project to be self sustainable over a period of time. The Indian government is in talks with all the major sanitary napkin manufacturers — and nothing is finalized as yet.”

Muruganantham doesn’t see it that way.

“What I am telling is that if the government permits me we are able without subsidy to provide the napkins,” Murugantham said. “Already, we can make napkins for 1 rupee, 50 paise. If the government comes, we can reduce that by 50 percent.”

And if the government guarantees orders from rural women, the scheme won’t cost the state a penny, Murugantham believes. With orders in hand, the women will be able to get small-business loans from local banks, enabling local entrepreneurs to set up 100,000 manufacturing units across India.

But can a grassroots invention really compete with some of the world’s largest multinational companies?

Because of poverty and social stigmas surrounding menstruation, today, most Indian women use rags or even scraps of gunny sack instead of modern sanitary napkins — which are unavailable or too costly. For the government, this represents a public health crisis, raising the likelihood that millions of women will suffer reproductive tract infections or even cervical cancer. And for the big napkin makers, it represents a huge, untapped market that promises to keep the business growing for decades.

“Realizing the huge business potential of converting the homemade napkin users to branded napkins,” J&J launched its Stayfree Secure brand in India in 1997, and the low-cost product was the largest selling sanitary napkin in the Indian market within four years, according to the company’s web site.

Riding on its Whisper brand, first launched here in 1989, P&G’s feminine hygiene division notched growth of 26 percent last year, according to the company’s annual report, generating sales of around $100 million.

The future lies in cracking the market comprising the urban and rural poor. Describing a partnership with the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) to teach rural women of Rajasthan about reproductive health — now set to be expanded in Muruganantham’s home state of Tamil Nadu — P&G’s annual report concludes, “Significantly, the program has been able to convert 85 percent of cloth users to sanitary pad users who used WHISPER.”

“P&G and Johnson and Johnson look at this issue merely in terms of sales turnover,” said PC Vinoj Kumar, a crusading journalist. “But as a social entrepreneur Muruganantham’s business model has socio-economic objectives. It creates employment for thousands of rural women, apart from promoting use of sanitary napkins.”

One of the first to discover Muruganantham’s invention, Kumar recently launched a Facebook campaign against the government’s plan to subsidize sanitary napkins, which he suspects will be sourced from one of the three multinationals that control the world market. In March, one of his campaigners filed a Right to Information (RTI) request seeking “copies of all files related to this scheme right from the initiation of the scheme, to any consultations held with any external agencies, the basis on which the scheme was announced and any other relevant details.”

But according to Kumar, the government’s reply simply stated the obvious: “This is to inform you that currently the Ministry, Health & Family Welfare does not have a scheme to provide free sanitary napkins for women living below poverty line. Further, discussions for formulation of the same as well as an assessment of various modalities is taking place in the ministry, after which, the scheme would be proposed.”

In case you’re not fluent in the lingo, that’s bureaucratese for buzz off: The ministry provided none of the files related to the plan or any other details requested under India’s RTI law. Now Kumar plans a letter-writing campaign to approach the president, the prime minister, the health minister and the finance minister and ask them to consider Muruganantham’s proposal before finalizing the free sanitary napkin scheme.

Meanwhile, Murugantham’s not standing still.

His napkin machines are already in place in more than 200 locations across India, where they are empowering local women, and taking the stigma away from menstruation and feminine hygiene by turning it into a lucrative trade. Though many have flourished, some self-help groups have floundered without management expertise — raising doubts whether a legion of grassroots organizations could truly handle the mammoth job of supplying sanitary napkins to the country. But Murugantham argues that if the government supports him instead of P&G or J&J, his machines cannot only solve India’s feminine hygiene crisis but also provide employment for a million women.

That’s radical thinking from the bottom of the pyramid. The question is: Will the government squash it and make a mockery of the much ballyhooed “decade of innovation?”

What an inspiration…. 🙂 I wonder if I’ll ever do something awesome like this, lol. It wasn’t long ago my ex said I should perhaps go work for a feminine hygiene company or design my own pads… I have a feeling if I did, they’d be very good 😆 OK, I have to have an ego sometimes, haha!

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