Health and Freedom in a Simple Piece of Cloth

Sanitary napkins made from waste cloth by Goonj

Where most people see trash, Shuddham sees opportunity; so it was only natural that fashion designer Anjali Schiavino would turn to Shuddham with her problem. Anjali was making an exclusive line of organic cotton clothing for a European client and wondered if there was a constructive use to which the pattern trimmings could be put. Thanks to our friend Anshu Gupta, we came up with an answer which Anjali immediately proclaimed as, “super cool!”

Anshu is the founder of the much celebrated, Delhi-based NGO, Goonj, which collects and distributes used clothing in needy villages throughout India. A couple years ago, Anshu decided to do something about a problem which handicaps and creates serious health risks for poor women throughout rural India: the lack of cloth to use as sanitary napkins. Goonj cuts-up cotton garments which can no longer be worn to make simple, absorbent menstrual pads.

Now, Anjali’s Pondicherry-based fashion house, Creative Art of Souls is moving full-speed-ahead on turning waste organic cotton into an important solution to the health and social problem that virtually imprisons countless poor women each month. Anjali and her designers are working on variations and improvements to the simple “dosa-style” folded pad Goonj currently offers. The napkins will be distributed by Goonj.

To further cement the collaboration, Shuddham has commenced a clothing collection system for Pondicherry, which will supply Goonj’s recently opened Chennai branch.

Shuddham is proud to have been the link between the thoughtfulness of Anjali and the brilliance of Anshu – and we are excited to see this program take-off in Pondicherry.

Anjali and Anshu
Anjali and Anshu

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2 Responses to “Health and Freedom in a Simple Piece of Cloth”


  1. 1 smita 3 May 2008 at 11:38 am

    What an absolutely brilliant idea! And all the more beautiful because it focuses on something most of India either tries to ignore or prefers to punish the women for (by considering them unclean and untouchable during this time).

    I have long believed that the problems related to monthly periods (especially the need for access to water, something to use as a pad and then either a way to wash it or dispose of it) is what caused women to accept the more domestic and secondary role in society in the first place.

    This problem is especially acute in the mountains where water is often scarce and insufficient for women to maintain a healthy level of personal hygiene.

    Any chance some of the folks from Shuddham and Goonj might consider making a trip up to Dehradun and Nainital to share some of their ideas and inspiration with folks up there?

  2. 2 Audrie Reed 24 September 2009 at 6:44 am

    Hello Ajali and Anshu

    I am really interested in this project. I shall be in Pondicherry in November and would like to meet with you to discuss some ideas for sanitary napkin self help groups in two of the villages we support in Tamil Nadu. Please let me know where in Pondicherry you are and a cell number and when it will be possible to meet. Also whether you distribute these free of charge to the villages? I arrive on the 9th November.

    With best wishes
    Audrie, Trustee, Village Outreach Society, UK


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