Introduction of woman NGO
WOMAN-NGO (Welfare Organization for Multi-purpose Mass Awareness Network) was established in the year 1992 by Mrs.Kannaghi Chandrasekaran with the objective of Woman empowerment through awareness creation, capacity building, training, networking, improvement of economic status through livelihood based training, improvement of health and improving the status of women by instilling confidence in them to come out of their shell and venture into a host of new activities.
About 41,250 successful women entrepreneurs are promoted through a network of 3,500 active Self Help Groups under the WOMAN-NGO umbrella. As sanitation and hygiene is vital for women empowerment, WOMAN-NGO has been giving topmost priority for sanitation with focused attention on Menstrual Hygiene Management since its inception. The SHGs are engaged in production of brick manufacturing, terracotta products, agarbathis, towel and basket making, soap, washing powder, cleaning powder besides running tailoring units and grocery shops. WOMAN-NGO had a micro finance wing which facilitated easy financial assistance to the various groups.
Areas of Work
Menstrual Hygiene survey
Woman NGO conducted a Menstrual Hygiene survey in 1992 in 77 villages which revealed that most women used dirty old clothes reused for several months were not prepared for spending money for SNs because they were very poor and threw away the used clothes or pads in a unhygienic manner causing damage to the environment. The situation was the same in many urban areas especially slums. Based on the survey results it launched a MHM campaign in 77 villages.
Based on the results of the survey Woman NGO first trained about 50 SHG members in various aspects of MHM and through them launched an intensive awareness campaign in its area of operations which aimed at removing the misconceptions and taboos among the rural women and adolescent girls.
In 1998 realizing the need for providing cost effective sanitary napkins to the women in rural areas Woman NGO entered the field of sanitary napkin production through SHGs and a distribution network to cover the very remote villages too. It selected SHGs and gave them production training on cotton and linen cloth. In 2004 to meet the increased demand it switched over to using wood pulp as raw material.
Woman NGO had provided several sources of livelihood for rural women through its network of SHG production units in varied economic activities. The close interaction between the SHG members in the network with focused attention on personal hygiene and sanitation ensured the speedy understanding of the various aspects of MHM by the rural community. This ensured a steadily increasing demand for the sanitary napkins produced by the SHGs in the network and enabled them to become self sufficient.
Woman NGO has produced a short film on menstrual hygiene in rural areas which is screened during awareness programs.
The health and hygiene workers regularly visited the schools in the area for awareness generation among the adolescent girls and teachers and soon after provided regular supply of SNs at the school itself. They also found out that the awareness generated to the students was shared by them with their younger relatives in the village who too understood more about MHM and also started buying SNs.
Woman NGO was in close and constant touch with the latest trends in SN production to manufacture cost effective SNs which will be most user friendly from their health aspects too. Today there are eight SN production units and 115 trained members who are producing over 7 lakhs SNs per month which are fully sold to the users mostly in rural areas.
Woman NGO is giving training for women on sanitary napkin production and develop special training modules for the same. Many SHGs from Tamil Nadu and from the states of Maharashtra,Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal have visited Woman NGO to study the successful functioning of the production units and the tie-up with the customers in rural areas. They have followed the woman NGO model for replication in their own state.
|Hand made Sanitary napkins production.||SN Production Center at Keeranur|
Though SNs are a low priced product repeated orders by customers every month, close contact between the user and the producer ensuring the demand even in rural areas and supply of the same to central points by vehicles besides door to door canvassing, and supply to institutions like colleges, schools, working women, hostels etc has been the reasons for the successful strategy of Woman NGO. The SHG members are getting a share of the products they are marketing and the agents in charge of supply also get Rs.5,000 as income.
The challenges of changing the size, model eco friendly raw materials and the production processes to meet the ever expanding market resulted in Woman NGO entering the field of designing machinery for production of sanitary napkins with Rajanarayanan design center. New models of machineries for manufacturing different models and varieties of SNs are also made.
Mrs.Shantha Sheela Nair, Secretary rural development and sanitation , Government of India visited the unit in April 2007.She was very much impressed by the Woman NGO model of integration of all activities related to MHM. Integrating MHM with general health and sanitation, creating awareness among women of the need for using SN, formation of SHGs to produce SNs in a decentralized manner , helping them get Eco friendly raw materials offering them technical and marketing support and ensuring a fair return for them could be replicated in other places she added.
Mrs.Kannaghi Chandrasekaran President of Woman NGO on invitation participated in the SACOSAN-III conference held in New Delhi in December 2007 and was honoured for championing the cause of MHM. Woman NGO took an active part in focusing MHM and urging the Government of INDIA in including the same as part of the total sanitation campaign. Woman NGO's chairperson was asked by the NRHM to address the I.A.S. officers of Bhopal. Mrs.Kannaghi explained the Woman NGO model to Ms.Sujatha Rao of NRHM in New Delhi and later was asked by Mrs.Rao to explain role of Woman NGO on MHM at the meeting of I.A.S officials held at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.
|At the Sacosan III conference with Mrs.Shantha Sheela Nair||The Union Minister Mr.Raghuvansh Prasad in the Woman NGO pavilion|
UNICEF was in close touch with Woman NGO in promotion of MHM among rural areas. It included Woman NGO among a list of leading NGOs working in the field to Women on Wings, an NGO from the Netherlands to India to develop business models for entrepreneurship for sanitary napkin production.
After visiting several states and studying the different models in the country the WOW identified woman NGO model as a very good model for replication and scaling up the field of MHM in the country. Ms.Ton Berg and Ina Dijstelbloem and other experts from WOW visited Keeranur three times and had detailed field visits and discussions.
The business model suggested by WOW will lead to more sustainable SN business in rural areas with small scale production units, generate income for rural women and ensure supply of SN to the women in rural areas at affordable prices. The team appreciated the Women NGO for its openness and willingness to share its expertise in the field and at the same time its willingness to learn the best practices from others.