Jayashree with her group of Padwomen
It was not an easy call for Goa-based Jayashree Parwar, who heads a self-help group producing biodegradable sanitary pads, to stand up and talk about periods in her male-dominated village. That, too, three years ago. Much before all of Bollywood and regular folks were flaunting selfies with sanitary pads on social media.
"To tell you the truth, women used to look down upon me when I used to sell these pads in a stall in Panaji. They used to say 'What is this woman doing here with these pads?' Men accompanying them were nice and keen to know about my product, women used to drag them away from my stall," Parwar told T2 Online in an interview.
Parwar, a fan of the original Padman Arunachalam Muruganantham (on whom the film Padman is based), decided to walk in the footsteps of her mentor in 2015. She created a self-help group and learnt how to make low-cost biodegradable pads out of pine wood paper, and sold them.
"A common friend introduced me to Muruganathan sir a few years ago, and I was so inspired after meeting him that I decided, no matter what, I will work to make sanitation issues better in our village first, and thereby in our country. There was no looking back. I put together a group of 10 women from the village who, after some reluctance, agreed to work with me," adds Pawar.
Though there were almost no buyers initially, in the last couple of months, ever since Akshay Kumar's Padman released, their sale has gone up. Their sanitary pads are now sold online and have even reached international markets.
“Frankly, we did not get an overwhelming response from locals, it was moderate. But the online demand is huge. Now, we are making 1,000 pads per month,” says Parwar.
With the release of Padman, which the group watched within the second day of its release, she feels their business has got a facelift. "Hygiene issues are very much important for a country. More films on sanitation should be made so that the taboos associated with them can get eradicated. I am very happy Akshay sir is doing films on such issues, first Toilet: Ek Prem Katha and, now, Padman," says Parwar.