Wycombe Abbey Pupil Champions Eradicating Period Poverty with Sustainable Period Underwear
21 September 2023 - All
Wycombe Abbey pupil Ahana (LVI), wants to bring more awareness to period poverty and the use of sustainable period underwear. She has developed a new brand called Saathi – a socially conscious business focused on menstrual hygiene, dedicated to eradicating period poverty globally through reusable period underwear. We are incredibly proud of Ahana’s dedication to this cause and pleased to see the impact she is having on trying to eradicate period poverty around the globe.
Below, Ahana tells us why she set up Saathi and how she is going about changing minds around menstruation.
The inspiration for Saathi struck me when I visited a village in India in the summer of 2022. I was shocked to learn that most girls had stopped attending their local school because of the uneconomical and unavailability of menstrual products – a basic human right. Instead, these girls believed, due to customs or societal behaviours, that menstruation is a shameful, unnatural process, and that they should live in period huts for the duration of their monthly cycle. Furthermore, I learnt that they were wearing cloth and/or rags while menstruating where they could end up with infections.
That’s when I decided I wanted to do something. Initially, I conducted an awareness exercise and developed a fundraising campaign, including taking part in a triathlon in April 2020 and donating sanitary pads to underprivileged girls during the pandemic. However, as I researched more about period poverty, I realised it affects approximately 500 million women worldwide. To make a continuing impact along with ensuring sustainability, I decided to create a business that served to tackle the issue.
My main aim through Saathi is to eradicate period poverty and to bring sustainability to menstrual hygiene/products and their packaging and disposal. After months of research, contacting manufacturers, receiving samples, trials and testing, and negotiating, I found the perfect product in March 2023. Constructed from highly absorbent bamboo fibre, the underwear provides the comfort of a regular undergarment while effectively absorbing menstrual flow. With a lifespan of approximately three years, the undergarment is an eco-friendly, cost-effective way to inspire young girls and women to opt for an alternative to pads and tampons as well as benefitting the environment. With the ‘buy one to give one’ concept, Saathi donates one pair of underwear to a girl in need with each purchase made.
The term ‘Saathi’ translates to ‘companion’ in Hindi, representing the collective effort of women coming together to free themselves from period-related worries. I believe that period poverty is a silent crisis. Millions of girls are suffering unnoticed, simply due to societal claims made hundreds of years ago. Period poverty is shrouded by a veil of social stigma and Saathi seeks to tackle this.
With sales of c.1500 units to reach the remotest parts of India where the support matters most, I recently partnered with the KCS Foundation, an NGO in India. In August 2023 we distributed 1500 pairs of underwear to girls across three schools in the Samastipur district of Bihar, India’s most rural and poorest state. I also hosted educational sessions to eliminate the social taboo around menstruation, explaining the reality of periods to these girls. Currently, I am developing increased sales channels and improved marketing, whilst also speaking with multinationals to collaborate with their CSR divisions to reach countries such as Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.
More recently, on 8 September 2023 for World Literacy Day, I was given an award by the Consul General of India in Dubai for Outstanding Community Service. I truly believe that Saathi is more than a brand, it is a movement, and I hope it sparks a revolution.
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