New Delhi: “My daughter Poorvi Mittal, saw the trailer of the movie PadMan and got motivated to bring a change, to do something different. It is then that she got the idea of creating a PadBank and make sanitary napkins accessible to underprivileged girls. She approached me and told me that she wants to work towards menstrual hygiene”, says Sumeeti Mittal, mother of the two young swachh warriors. With the support of her mother who herself is a social entrepreneur, Poorvi Mittal along with her younger sister Suhani Mittal embarked on a mission ‘PadBank’ in Jaipur city on January 10.
Women and girls residing in villages rely on old cotton and cloth during their periods. Some want to use sanitary napkins, but are unable to do so as they don’t have enough money. Sanitary napkins are a luxury which is beyond their means. Keeping in mind all these factors and the level of menstrual hygiene in India, the young girls thought of providing sanitary napkins to the girls from low-income groups.
After watching the trailer of the movie, I thought that if a man can do something for the betterment of women, why can’t I? says 16-year-old Poorvi, the brain behind PadBank.
How does PadBank work?
Initially, when the idea was floated, Summeti, a social worker, who is quite influential in Jaipur approached different women and asked for help. The message was spread through a chain system and soon people started joining the campaign. The basic idea is to collect sanitary napkins from well-to-do people and distribute it among less fortunate girls.
PadBank is a bridge between well to do women and women who are in need. Empowered women will empower other women, explains Poorvi.
Though the team collects sanitary napkins four times a year, pads are distributed every month. During the first collection that happened in the last week of January, around 150 people came forward to help and the team managed to accumulate around 2500 pads.
Anyone who wishes to contribute can donate sanitary napkins at our collection centers. As of now, we have ten collection centers and two PadBanks, says Sumeeti.
To get a stock of sanitary napkins every month, a girl needs to open an account with PadBank for Rs. 5. Once the account is opened, a girl can collect eight pads every month.
We don’t wish to earn from this PadBank. The money collected is used in purchasing sanitary napkins which at the end are distributed among these girls only, says Summeti.
The idea of the team is to not only provide sanitary napkins for free, but also raise the level of awareness and understanding among women residing in rural areas. Girls often end up missing school while they are menstruating. Young warriors take awareness sessions at different schools and bastis to make less privileged women understand the importance of using sanitary napkin.
Currently we have only two PadBanks and we are providing sanitary pads only to school girls, but with the passage of time, we aim to accelerate our reach. We plan to cover more number of villages and bring women under our ambit, signs off Sumeeti.
It’s a small start for the Mittal sisters, but the intent is big. Through PadBank, Mittal sisters hope they can make a difference in the lives of women at an young age by opening up the conversation about periods. It would be a start, if through the PadBank girls become more receptive than their mothers to talk about menstrual hygiene and men become more aware to support the cause.