As part of its livelihood support programme for marginalised women, Muktokantho, a women’s collective in Kolkata, West Bengal, is now ready to market its first product, ‘Feel Free’. It is a low-cost, eco-friendly and highly absorbent sanitary napkin produced by the collective following training facilitated by ActionAid Association.
Having emerged from our Young Urban Women (YUW) initiative, Muktokantho has been exploring ways to provide livelihood support to women living in informal worker settlements in the city. The YUW programme seeks to build women’s access to decent work, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and participation and leadership on urban issues, primarily gender-responsive public services and safe cities. Through this programme, we are empowering young women across a total of 13 cities in India – Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Delhi, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, Patna and Srinagar – reaching out to nearly 4,500 young women from 120 slums. In Kolkata, the initiative started in 2018 in ten urban localities. Today, the work has spread to 16 urban localities, with more than 1,000 members.
Under the Muktokantho collective, we established a sanitary napkin-making training-cum-business unit with the support of a CSR partner in November 2021. In its first batch, ten young women impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic learned to make sanitary napkins through a six-month-long training, developed sales and marketing skills, and received working knowledge on maintaining stocks and accounts.
Besides promoting livelihood opportunities for marginalised women, this sanitary napkin-making initiative would provide women and girls in the city with affordable access to menstrual hygiene. Muktokantho would also spread awareness and prepare first-generation sanitary napkin users on napkin usage and their proper disposal. Read more here.