The Pad Piper (2013) Documentary · 25 December 2013
The Pad Piper is the incredible story of a school dropout and grassroots innovator from India, Arunachalam Muruganantham. In a nutshell, the film explores how his innovation, a low-cost sanitary-pad making machine, is changing the face of menstrual hygiene for thousands of women across India. In itself it may not sound path breaking, but this simple machine has the potential to change lives of women across the world and give them dignity. Menstruation is a taboo and a subject few men know or dare to ask about. Muruganantham's curiosity about his wife's use of cloth during her periods led to shocking revelations, and a long body of research that lasted over 8 years and he went to the extent of wearing a sanitary pad himself! His wife's story is similar to that of thousand of women in developing countries - they are either unaware of sanitary pads or are unable to afford them. Only 12% women in India use hygienic absorbent materials like sanitary pads or tampons. The rest turn to cloth rags, ashes, newspapers, husk or sand to manage their menstruation days. This puts them at great risk of infection, sterility, cancer and eventual death. Muruganantham's vision is to make India a 100% sanitary pad using country. He sells his machines on a turnkey basis to women self-help groups across the country, whereby entrepreneurs are supported on the raw material supplies and with training. At a price of about 1800 Dollars, each machine can produce 1,000 pads in an 8 hour shift and employ 4 to 6 women. With each pad costing 20 cents on average, they can be sold about 40 to 80 cents a piece for a sizeable profit. Typically, 'resident dealers' are appointed in every street/locality. These are women who inform and educate women in other households about the perils of using other rudimentary and unsafe methods. It is a woman-to-woman model that operates silently. Across 758 villages in 24 states in India and in 8 countries across the world, women are making sanitary pads under different brand names using his machine. These pads are being sold not just in packs, but also per piece. Payments models are being improvised up, wherein women barter vegetables for sanitary pads! Every woman self help group that comes under Murugunantham's vision is akin to the networks on social media. Arunamachal Muruganantham is the modern day pied piper. A Pad Piper. - Written by Akanksha Sood
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