The harsh reality she came across was that of cervical cancer. In Azusa taluka, Latur, Maharashtra, around 6,000 women were suffering from cervical cancer. The grim reality which she witnessed with her own eyes shook her from top to bottom. The ideal of womanhood, which she held, came crushing down in front of her eyes. And, then she decided to dedicate her whole life, to ensure that women can maintain their menstrual hygiene.
In a country, where 62% of women, still use a cloth during the menstruation, a women is spearheading the movement of spreading awareness about sanitary pads and menstruation.
Chhaya Kakade is truly a ‘Pad Women’. She has been working relentlessly and ceaselessly with an aim, that no woman should ever face health complications due to lack of awareness.
While speaking to My Medical Mantra, Chhaya Kakade said, “I had been spreading awareness about menstruation since I was in college day. But, it was in 2012, when I happened to visit Ausa, Taluka in Latur. I saw the sad reality. I got to know that around 6,000 women in the area were suffering from cervical cancer. And the main cause was lack of awareness during the menstrual cycle.”
“The challenge was not so easy. First I had to give sanitary napkin to them, so that they can use it. So, I started a project, Refresh Sanitary Napkin. I used to make the napkins and give it for free, with a hope that the woman would come forward to take it,” says Chhaya.
But, it was not an easy job. In the rural areas, she had to face the resistance from the male members of the family. She had to face very stern questions from the society, and was forced to shut her sanitary pad making unit as well.
But, she didn’t bow down to societal pressure. She adds, “I had faced resistance from several families. They were people who used to accuse me of giving wrong things to the women? But, I knew that I had to keep going, what come may. Today, 5 lakh women are using these pads, and have generated a job opportunity to 10,000 women in the area.”
The ‘Pad Woman’ who comes from an interior and drought affected area of Latur; Maharashtra is a global figure now. Pads manufactured in her units located in Padhewadi, Latur, are being sent to Dubai and the United States as well.
She added, “5,000 women in Dubai and United States are using these pads now. I am very happy that finally my efforts have yielded results. The money which I generate from these pads, are utilised for manufacturing the pads. And the pads are distributed among the economically challenged women.”
If you ask the ‘Pad Women’ what should be done for awareness, she says, “We must spread awareness about sanitary pods and menstruation in the schools. The state government should take an active initiative in spreading awareness.”