If I had the desire to spend $3.99 of my poor little college student stipend on streaming a documentary from the internet (provided that my computer would even let me do such a thing), it would be on “Menstrual Man”. Who is Menstrual Man, you might ask? Only a simple man in India who singlehandedly transformed his silent revolution into a life-changing movement for women who do not have basic sanitary needs available to them during their menstrual cycle!
Yeah, I know!
I’m actually floored by what this man has done for thousands of women in his region of India. Arunachalam Muruganantham, an uneducated social entrepeneur, invented — INVENTED — machines to mass produce sanitary pads for the women in rural communities of India. This is huge because the majority of sanitary pads are imported from foreign countries and are exorbitantly expensive for these women. Often, they opt to use old rags or even husks to handle their monthly bleeding and save money.
Muruganantham created a simple machine to sell to women’s groups in India so that they may produce their own pads and sell them for a small profit. The machines are built with a minimum amount of complexity, and parts that the rural women are able to repair, should it break down at any point.
In this NPR article, the writer goes on to explain that this man was subject to such public scrutiny and skepticism that even his wife doubted his motives. She thought that her husband was cheating on her, and his project thus ended his marriage. At a great personal cost, Muruganantham began a revolution in India that will have an unimaginably huge impact on the women of his country moving forward.
By providing women in India with affordable sanitary pads, personal hygiene can take a huge step forward, as well as improving the amount of independence and freedom that women have in their daily lives. Rather than remain limited to indoor activities or avoiding travel during their menstruation, these women have access to a more comfortable alternative in an environment where unhindered movement is at a premium.
It is an empowering movement and an excellent example of how men can help along the upward climb of women in all societies. Something that seems as simple as feminine hygiene can prove to be a real problem in other parts of the world, and I will be the first person to admit that I never really understood the gravity of the situation until I came across Menstrual Man and the work that he has done.
One man risked his integrity within his community, his love life, and his own image to help women in dire need of proper feminine hygiene. The female menstrual cycle should not be a taboo subject, especially when acknowledging it can have such a critical impact on women around the world.
Thank you, Arunachalam Muruganantham, for reminding everyone that women are worth fighting for!