Ladakh: The army has chipped in to provide low-cost sanitary napkins to women in Ladakh in one of the first such initiatives for civilians in the country.
A manufacturing unit has been set up at a state-run women empowerment centre in Leh, Northern Command spokesperson Col. S.D. Goswami said, adding the napkins made at the facility would be available at a third of the prices of existing brands. General Officer Commanding of the Leh-based 14 Corps, Lt. Gen. S.K. Patyal, inaugurated the unit on Wednesday.
The initiative, named "Sakhi Suvidha - a venture to empower Ladakhi women", followed an awareness campaign on the benefits of adopting hygienic practices, the spokesperson said.
The aim is to overcome problems of availability and affordability of sanitary napkins in the region, known as the Cold Desert and home to several nunneries.
"The plant is a revolutionary concept at a time of high-cost complicated machines and will be of immense benefit to women in the remote areas of Ladakh. Napkins produced by these machines are quite economical compared to other products in the market. The cost of making a sanitary pad (at the unit) is less than a third of the most competitive brand," Col. Goswami said.
The napkin machine has been designed by Arunachalam Muruganantham, an innovator who has won several awards, including one from the President, and was featured amongTimemagazine's 100 most influential people in the world in 2014 for his accomplishments, Col. Goswami said.
"Muruganantham was present at the inauguration. He demonstrated the use of the machine. The plant is a giant leap for the betterment of women of Ladakh," Col. Goswami said.
Local officials said the initiative would be of immense help to poor women and those in nunneries. "There are around a 1,000 nuns in at least 10 nunneries in Leh who have virtually no access to sanitary napkins," an official said.