By Dimithri Wijesinghe
On the International Day of Rural Women (15) – a day to recognise rural women’s participation in development while focusing on their needs and rights – the Selyn Foundation launched its brand-new initiative of reusable fabric sanitary napkins by Selyn.
Selyn has launched a product where with every purchase, they will match their customers’ purchase one to one and donate a reusable napkin to women who are unable to afford menstrual hygiene supplies in rural Sri Lanka. Additionally, 5% of sales proceeds will be given to support outreach activities to raise awareness on menstrual hygiene among communities in the Kurunegala District, to start with; they have partnered The Arka Initiative to conduct these sessions and they hope this can build the needed trust to engage in more difficult conversations on topics affecting the physical and mental wellbeing of women.
Selyn Foundation Project Manager Kavindi Bandara shared with us that the primary reason for the project was to remedy the current climate in Sri Lanka with regards to female sanitary products like sanitary pads.
It is estimated that approximately 40% of Sri Lankan women use sanitary napkins while the others opt to use cloth and old rags due to these products being too expensive and inaccessible. In addition, the social stigma surrounding menstruation means that women and girls avoid school/work during their period due to this reason. In addition, since they use cloth and utilise unclean methods to manage their period, vaginal infection is rampant among women in rural areas.
She stated that the product is 100% Sri Lankan made, and how they source the product is through the Selyn Foundation, which employs direct labour including those who work in manufacturing outlets under Selyn and also independent home workers from rural communities who contribute from home. For this particular project, they utilise both types of labour, Bandara shared.
The product is priced (large, Rs. 950 and medium, Rs. 750) in the concept of “buy one and gift one”, meaning the price is inclusive of an additional reusable napkin that will be gifted to the needy by the purchaser. “For every pad you purchase, the Selyn Foundation will match it as a gift,” she said, adding that the intention was so those in rural communities would not have to purchase it; what they wish to do is to introduce a sustainable and zero waste solution to female sanitation for those who cannot afford it.
She stated that the response has been incredibly positive, with their products being sold out within the first 24 hours of the launch; they have even had many men purchasing the product in order to gift the product to those who may need it in rural communities.
Bandara also provided that the way they make these donations is also significant due to their partnership with The Arka Initiative; in reaching out to communities of women in rural areas, they carry out awareness programmes to supplement their distribution. She said that they not only educate the women on their menstrual health but also create awareness on reproductive health and a variety of other women’s issues, from legal protection to their rights.
As this was their soft launch, they are yet to estimate figures to go by in terms of projections in savings, however they do guarantee 60 months of use for the product. They also advised buying two large and three medium pads, which would last five years.
Bandara added that they hope to grow this venture as they take into consideration customers and their feedback to expand on the products they have. She said that they are currently looking into developing a solution to create baby diapers and panty liners as well, and those products would definitely be next in line.
Now available to purchase online at: http://bit.ly/Reusable-Feminine-Pads