Pad for Pad
Pad for Pad: passing on the power of informed choice
Pad for Pad connects our customers and adolescent girls in India through the shared experience of menstruation, respect for our bodies, and love for the earth. When women and girls around the world choose to use our cloth pads, their purchase ensures that other girls, who might not otherwise be able to, get to access clean, alternative menstrual products and answers to their questions. It’s an idea we like to call ‘eco-sisterhood.’
We started Pad for Pad because we saw that many women and girls in our area of Tamil Nadu have a lot of unanswered questions about their bodies and the menstrual cycle, mostly because menstruation is a topic not openly talked about. This observed need for safe learning spaces and the growing challenge of dealing with sanitary waste across India inspired us to replace silence with conversation and action.
Since 2013 we have been partnering with government schools in Tamil Nadu and organisations across India to bring the Pad for Pad programme to girls from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
Get a more in-depth perspective into the programme here.
What topics are covered during a menstrual health educational session?
The Pad for Pad sessions are designed to give girls the skills to manage their periods hygienically and with dignity, and the chance to relate to menstruation as a normal, healthy experience. It is often the first chance girls have ever had to ask questions and express their curiosity about menstruation.
The topics covered during this session as are follows:
- Female Anatomy, Menstruation, and the Menstrual Cycle —Girls learn about changes that happen during puberty. The menstrual cycle is explained in detail and they are instructed in menstrual cycle tracking giving them a powerful tool for cultivating body literacy. They learn how to recognise the difference between a normal cycle and when to seek help.
- Taking Care of Ourselves During Menstruation – girls learn about nutrition and iron rich foods. They learn asanas and exercises to maintain healthy body and enable participation during menstruation in normal activities of daily living.
- Menstrual Products — Girls learn about different menstrual absorbents and the proper use and care for products to ensure safety and good health and sanitation. Product analysis enables them to understand the health and environmental risks of disposable sanitary napkins and gives them a possibility to make informed product choices.
- Safe space for practice speaking and sharing with each other about menstruation and cultural practices thus gaining confidence to become peer mentors for each other and overcome shyness and inhibition.
We have created a standardised 3 hour curriculum for introducing adolescent girls to menstruation in a classroom setting.
This curriculum has been formatted into a user friendly facilitators guide
Pad for Pad Kit includes: 4 pads (Eco Femme Day Pad Plus or option of Foldable pads if preferred ) made from cotton flannel and with a leak proof layer; a travel/storage pouch; and instruction leaflet (available in Hindi and Tamil). Colour and pattern of pads and pouch may vary from that shown in the image.
We can also offer an option for providing materials for girls to self stitch an additional pad under this programme – an activity that girls love and feel proud of!
How does Pad for Pad work?
We include a contribution in the price of our internationally sold pads – 95 INR per pad; this money covers the cost of facilitation and educational materials for our sessions and allow us to offer 4 of our washable cloth pads and a carry pouch as a free choice (In India the 95 INR is not included in the price; customers can choose to add a pad purchase for a rural girl when they buy pads or contribute independently).
Watch our video to learn more about this programme and how it works:
Why target adolescent girls?
- Create informed choice: In June 2011, the Indian government initiated a scheme to provide free disposable pads to adolescent girls (age 10-19) in rural India. This scheme means that at least 90 million disposable pads are tossed aside or burned each month! Considering that consumer patterns are set early on, we would like to offer girls in this age group information about alternative menstrual products that reduce sanitary waste, and the chance to access such a product.
- Educational and developmental impact: Knowing that menarche and menstruation are normal, healthy signs of growing up can help girls to experience less anxiety as development progresses. For this reason, we target adolescent girls who are still becoming familiar with their menstrual cycle in order to answer their questions and assuage fears. We have also learned that some girls miss school on their period days or drop out altogether because they do not have access to menstrual products or because they experience unmanageable discomfort. Providing information, resources, and products mitigates this problem and allow girls to continue their personal development by staying enrolled and fully participating in school.
- Independence: Most girls do not have independent purchasing power. The choice of sanitary product is generally made by her parents, and limited to what the mother (or other female relative) already knows about—usually recycled cloth or disposable pads.
- Cultural context: We work mainly with rural girls because in the rural areas there is still a strong culture of using cloth for menstruation, so switching to a revitalised form of cloth is quite feasible. Rural areas also have less access to sanitary products and there is no safe manner to dispose of them.
Our progress at a glance:
As of July 2021 we have reached over 50,000 girls across India
and 200,000 pads have been freely gifted as a result of your donations!
|Number of girls receiving kits||1,740||3,650||6,539||8,142||10,426||13,064||3,936*||15,000|
|Number of pads distributed||6960||13,676||26,156||32,144||41,204||52,100||15,744||60,000|
|Number of educational sessions (direct & with partners)||64||111||223||266||335||419||124*||429 **|
|Donations received (in INR)||8,67,942||13,79,255||17,11,607||24,60,558||35,98,649||48,72,220||53,39,240||5,700,000|
* In 2020-2021, targets were not realized due to schools being closed because of lock downs and Covid-19 situation. All donations will be retained for future programs. Currently, the programs are picking up pace again.
** Due to Covid 19 restrictions and school closures, these targets will not be achieved. We will carryover donations and plan to catch up in reaching out to more girls in 2022 – 2023 hopefully!
How can I support the Pad for Pad programme?
In addition to the contributions that are built into our international sales we are happy to receive support from individuals around the world; your donations will go to covering the facilitation cost of sessions, Pad for Pad kits, and any training or support our implementation partners might need – all allowing an adolescent girl the chance to make informed choices and speak openly about menstruation in a safe context.
You can make donations by following the instructions below and clicking ‘Donate Now’.
Does Pad for Pad partner with organisations?
Yes! We work with implementation partners and organisations across India to spread menstrual health education and washable cloth pads for free.
You can see who we are currently partnered with at the bottom of this page.
If you are interested in being an implementation partner click here to learn more about our partnership requirements.
Measuring impact of educational outreach work
We take evaluation very seriously in order to measure the impact of our educational outreach work. 3 months after a Pad for Pad session, we return to check on how the girls have adapted to using cloth pads and monitor the learning and behaviour changes that occurred as a result of the menstrual health educational session.
We also periodically conduct indepth interviews with a sample set of girls to gain deeper insight into how the session impacted them – whether they learned and adopted healthy menstrual practices and have acquired the confidence and personal skills to speak about menstruation and share their knowledge with peers.
We ask all our Pad for Pad implementation partners to also undertake programme evaluation.
"After the session at school , I told my sister who has not got her periods about what's happening in the body and what periods are. I have also been tracking my periods since then."
"I shared with my friend what I learnt from the Eco Femme class and I eat extra vegetables during my periods as advised."
"I have been using Eco Femme pads, they are very comfortable and easy to maintain. More than the cloth I was using before. I also practice the yoga she taught."
"I spoke for the first time about periods to my aunt and my cousin, we discussed about what is happening in the 28 days and why girls act sensitive. After the session I don't restrict myself from feeding the dogs and watering the plants."
"I take good rest as was mentioned during the class and now I have reduced cramps. I thought the class was very informative and I remember about the uterus model she showed in the class and the positioning of the uterus."
"I told my sister and mother that periods blood is not dirty and how important it is to rest during periods if having heavy and painful periods. Since the class, in situations where certain practices have to be followed, I act according to the situation."
"I feel confident that I am the one in my family to know about menstruation and every time a cousin gets her first period they send her to me explain about whats happening in her body, I have explained to at least 7 of them."
"Since I got the Eco Femme pads I don't have to go through the process of digging holes in the earth to bury the used pads and I'm happy about it and also try to maintain a less oily and less snacky diet during my period, I have also been tracking my period in my school diary."
We regularly prepare reports on the progress of the Pad for Pad programme. Please click on links below to learn more about the progress towards our targets and the impact this programme is making.
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Our thanks to our implementation partners for helping us to reach more girls around India.
Thanks to the following individuals also working with us through Pad for Pad – your support & dedication is truly appreciated:
- Ms Urvashi Sareen – Shakti-Within
- Ms. Jayshree Hatangadi
- Dr. Anurekha Jain
- Ms. Pari Pooranam
- Ms. Sudha Menon
- Ms. M. Manasa Mahathi
- Ms. Uden Bhutia
- Red Convent Students (1978) Charitable Trust
- Ms. Indira Reddy
- Ms. Anju Agarwal
Thanks also to Two Rags – a socially minded giveback partner who supports the pad for pad program by enabling their own socially-conscious customers to be the driving force in empowering girls through their purchases.