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  Social Responsibility

Healthcare
Published on: Feb. 13, 2020, 7:54 p.m.
The Welspun group promotes health and hygiene by encouraging women entrepreneurs

By Business India Editorial
T

he Family Planning Association of India surveyed five villages of Vapi, Gujarat to measure the perception and behaviour of men and women about women health and sanitation.

The findings reflected a need for a behavioural change intervention, especially with regards to menstrual hygiene management. Thus emphasising on the usage of sanitation, the Welspun Group constructed sanitation blocks in the villages and set up a centre to make sanitary pads.

Under a special project that promotes health and hygiene through entrepreneurship, women from the local community are trained in skills of sales, networking, marketing, money management and encouraged to become entrepreneurs through direct/indirect employment.

Two to three women in each village act as ambassadors, thereby creating a linkage of self-help groups in all neighbouring villages. The group also partners with local NGOs who take care of the training as well as create market linkages for the women. This ensures additional aid in case the women face difficulties while implementing the project. The project has been implemented in villages around the plant at Anjar, Kutch and a similar model initiated at Sahranpur and Chutmalpur (Uttar Pradesh) and Dewas (Madhya Pradesh).

Chandani Parmar from Loharia village overcame the stigma of using sanitary pads after she attended the session on menstrual hygiene. She said, “Before attending the session on menstrual hygiene, I used cloth during my periods. After attending the session, I have switched to the sanitary napkin. I have also been approached by several women and girls to clarify their doubts regarding menstrual hygiene and the problems they face during the menstrual cycle. I am happy to earn a livelihood by selling pads and spreading awareness on menstrual health.”

There have also been pro bono collaborations established through grassroots level networking wherein National Rural Livelihood Mission – Mission Mangalam has supported in organizing capacity building workshop for the entrepreneurs and launching the project, mapping of SHGs and identification of potential entrepreneurs, field engagement of SHGs, the formation of larger SHG group in association which later can be registered as a federation. A collaboration with the government’s health department helps enrol ASHA and Anganwadi workers as entrepreneurs. Other networking initiatives include organising awareness sessions in government spaces as well as the involvement of Panchayat.

The company now intends to introduce varieties of sanitary napkins rather than a single type with eight sanitary napkins in a packet. To make the project sustainable the second phase includes setting up incinerators at public utility areas, for effective disposal of used sanitary napkins and to create a PPP model for funding the incinerators’ cost.

A major focus will also be placed on bridging the gap between awareness and access to cost-effective sanitary napkins by facilitating networking initiatives with the Health and the Women and Child Development Ministry.

Welspun now aims to build systems and processes to ensure sustainability as well as to increase its reach on a yearly basis.


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