New Delhi: Every year, India produces around 9,000 tonnes of sanitary waste which majorly comprises of sanitary pads, diapers, and cloth rags, used as an alternative to sanitary pads. Considering the immense environmental impact and safety of those engaged in waste management, Sirona—a Delhi based start-up manufactures sustainable menstruation hygiene products like cups, tampons and PeeBuddy (a disposable, portable urination device for women).
Taking their vision of “safe and pad-free periods” to Commercial Sex Workers (CSWs) of Garstin Bastion road, Sirona launched a CSR initiative to provide accessible, economical and environmentally sustainable way for CSWs to manage their menstruation with dignity.
Named “Project AAAN (self-respect in Hindi)”, it aims to educate these marginalised women to adapt to safer practices and save a part of their income by moving away from sanitary pads, cloths and rags that they have used conventionally.
By partnering with a local NGO Katkatha, “Project AAAN” has successfully enabled around 180 women in the course of four to five months to empower themselves with better sanitary practices. The long-term objective of this initiative is to make GB road completely “Pad Free” by 2025 thereby saving these CSWs from infections, financial strain and at the same time creating environmental consciousness.
“It was difficult for us as even urban women face challenges when it comes to using menstrual cups. We had our entire team use them first and then we went to the CSWs, after we were very sure and informed,” said Shruti from Katkatha. Katkatha, a non-profit organisation is working for past four years at G.B. Road, Delhi, with the sole vision to “end forced sex work.” It has been converting G.B. Road brothels into classrooms and safe spaces for the women and their children to learn, explore creative arts and lead a better life.
Deep Bajaj, the founder of Sirona and PeeBuddy believes in “paying it forward” approach where he wants to ensure that “no woman is left behind”. He said: “At AAAN we are now making inroads into all red light areas in metro cities where women don’t have access to menstrual hygiene products. We believe Sirona cups will solve this problem from all angles: financials (cups are reusable as you don’t need to buy them every month), environmental (better than pads which usually take years to decompose) and also doesn’t give rashes etc.”
He also added, “We believe menstrual hygiene needs to become a part of the curriculum right at the school level and it needs to be strictly administered (not name sake). Still in schools we are not taking about normalcy during periods, this is something we plan to pursue as an integral part of our awareness campaigns.”