Vijay Rupani, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, inaugurated the Swachh machine and the brand-new Atal Tinkering Lab at the Desai Foundation’s Shantaben Vidhyabhavan community center in the village of Untdi, Gujarat, India, last month.
Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call of ‘SabkaSaath, SabkaVikas’, Rupani has given priority to inclusive development with a focus on welfare for all sections of society, according to a press release by the Desai Foundation.
The first priority was to inaugurate the Swachh machine, a first of its kind semi-automatic machine that produces sanitary napkins.
The new machine is being used for the Desai Foundation’s Asani Sanitary Napkin Program, which employs rural women to produce and sell sanitary napkins in their communities, educates women and girls about menstrual hygiene and spreads a message that de-stigmatizes periods.
The Desai Foundation’s Sanitary Napkin Program currently operates in two regions and is expanding to seven more in the southern area of Gujarat.
“Women will never be left behind, society and the government, need to pay attention to women’s health, and to improve the health of girls and women. Sanitary napkins have to be a part of their life. It is a big thing that women themselves produce and sell sanitary napkins through the Desai Foundation’s Asani program,” Rupani said, in a press release.
This new machine will improve the quality of the Asani pads and increase production speed to 16 pads per minute as it has a streamlined assembly-line production process and the Asani Sanitary Napkin Program will now be able to scale up its sales and distribution team while maintaining the price of its pads.
“It’s bringing girls together, making them a part of a community, and getting them to talk about things they are constantly told they cannot talk about. That’s why I think this truly can cultivate dignity for women in rural India,” Megha Desai, president of the Desai Foundation, said in a press release.
The Atal Tinkering Lab at the Lok Vidyalaya School at Shantaben Vidhyabhavan was also inaugurated by Rupani.
The school is now one of 2,441 in India to have been selected to receive a granted Atal Tinkering Lab, funded by Atal Innovation Mission, an endeavor by NITI Aayog to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in schools, colleges and the society at large through various initiatives.
Atal Tinkering Labs are a work space where young minds can explore their ideas through hands on and do-it-yourself learning techniques where young children can get a chance to work with tools and equipment to understand the concepts of STEM.
The Desai Foundation has already impacted the lives of more than 387,000 women and children in the U.S. and India with its programs, including hygiene training, vocational training, computer literacy classes, a science school, health camps, and the Asani Sanitary Napkin Program.