In India over half of the population of the tea estates is female. These women work on the fields and run the household, but often they have very limited time and resources for their personal hygiene. The WASH program recognizes the relation between health, awareness and the social position of women and therefore strives for an improvement of the personal hygiene of the women on the estates. Especially in the Assam province this program can use some extra focus and therefore the Zorg van de Zaak Foundation is asked for support.
The WASH program considers multiple aspects of personal hygiene, but the TEA association focuses on the support of menstrual hygiene. On most estates sanitary napkins are not sufficiently available and therefore very expensive. This causes the girls to stay absent from school or the women not to participate in work on the fields during their menstruation period. Exact numbers are difficult to obtain, but is is estimated that only 12% of women in India have excess to sanitary napkins. On top of that basic knowledge about menstruation is scarce amongst girls and women.
Research done by Unicef states that less than half of the girls between 12 and 23 know about menstruation before their first period. On the estates it is considered a disease or punishment for past sins. Also there is little knowledge about disposing used napkins. Often it lingers around in the house.
The Zorg van de Zaak Foundation supports the project by financing two machines to produce sanitary napkins on two estates, the Khowang en the Dheodaam estate. They can be used to produce napkins at 30% of the price of sanitary napkins in the stores. A total of around 6000 women live on the two estates who will get access to clean, safe and affordable napkins and a social situation is created in which menstruation is a topic of discussion and more information is made available. Another 1500 women live on the smaller surrounding tea estates. These women will also benefit from the placement of the machines.