We never expected an Oscar: Muruganantham

Inspiring people: Arunachalam Muruganantham in Coimbatore on Monday.  

Arunachalam Muruganantham, a 56-year-old social entrepreneur in Coimbatore, had his handset ringing with congratulatory calls and messages on Monday morning. Period. End of Sentence, a documentary that reflects his work, had won an Oscar in the Best Short Documentary category.

“I am very happy. We never expected an Oscar. The subject (menstrual hygiene) has reached a global audience. Not just in India, but, women in Kenya, Uganda, or Bangladesh can learn about menstrual hygiene through the documentary,” he says.

Pad Man, the Akshay Kumar-starrer inspired by the life of Mr. Muruganantham had created a huge impact in India. The Oscar for Period. End of Sentence will take the subject to more people in different countries, he adds. “I have received several calls from women who have seen the movie and not only started using the napkins but are educating other women too. That is the real award.”

After nearly seven years of research, Mr. Muruganantham started manufacturing machines in 2004 to produce affordable sanitary napkins. The machines are set up mainly in rural areas where women make the napkins and sell them. “I have installed 5,300 machines in India. More than one lakh women are employed and they produce 1,500 different brands of sanitary pads,” he says.

The aim is to achieve 100% use of sanitary napkins among women and provide self-employment opportunities to 10 lakh women. He has also enabled installation of the machines in 24 countries, including six machines in Pakistan and 10 in Bangladesh. He has trained a group of women in Afghanistan. One machine will be commissioned in Chennai on March 8 this year to be operated by 20 hearing and speech impaired women.

According to him, the challenge is not in installing the machinery but in breaking the taboo against use of sanitary napkins. “Several communities have beliefs against use of the pads. Such beliefs exist in many other countries too.” “The Government should include menstrual hygiene in the curriculum,” he says. The Delhi government plans to incorporate a summary of important events in his life in the school curriculum.

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Printable version | Oct 28, 2021 7:26:51 PM |

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