Research and Resources
From its inception, Eco Femme has used participatory and action research methods, rooted in inquiry-based group work, to understand the unique situations and real needs of women and girls in the various communities we work within. Focus groups, one-to-one interviews, and evaluation sessions directly inform the design and content of our products and programs.
In 2010, prior to forming as a social enterprise, Eco Femme conducted interviews with 300 women in the Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu, as a way to understand and address the menstrual beliefs and practices of women in the bioregion. These results, published in our 2011 Rural Menstrual Hygiene Management report, can be read here. A two-year study was then conducted to product-test three models of Eco Femme pads with rural women. This study, which was released in November 2013, can be read here.
Now successfully launched as a social enterprise, with a reach extending throughout India and internationally, Eco Femme continues to refine our products and programs to address the needs of diverse populations. Part of the way we do this is by sustaining active dialogue with our partners, customers, and ambassadors in various geographical regions as well as soliciting feedback from them.
While committed to providing basic menstrual health and hygiene education, an ongoing area of interest for us at Eco Femme lies in researching alternative approaches to the biomedical model of menstruation. This includes more gynocentric (female-centered) and holistic cultural beliefs and practices that still exist in some form in traditional communities, or that may have existed in other historical periods. Within the Indian context, future areas of research include goddess worship, community menstrual rites, and rites-of-passage for girls.
Along with our foundational research projects, Eco Femme has generated, in full and in part, the following publications and resources:
- Dirty Secrets – the hidden costs of your disposable menstrual pad – a document that explains some of the issues that disposable pads cause, set primarily in an Indian context.
- 28 Conversations – a guide put together in collaboration with Wash United to help get the conversation about menstruation started.
- 28 Conversations for boys and men – a guide put together in collaboration with Wash United to help get the conversation about menstruation started with boys and men.
- Yoga for Menstruating Women Instructional Video – a sequence of poses that are beneficial for the easing of menstruation symptoms and general women’s health.
- Natural Treatment for Menstrual Discomfort Using Local Tamil Nadu Plants – natural medicinal guide for healthier menstruation.
- PCOS Factsheet – This was put together by Jane on her last visit in Jan 2017. You can read more about PCOS in her article on our blog.
- Menstrual Cycle Tracking Chart – a downloadable chart put together to help you to both track and gain a deeper understanding of your menstrual cycle, moods and fertility. Includes instructions for how to use.
- Masika – the latest offering from Auroville Video Productions, is a documentary that informs women in India about the environmental and social impact of disposable sanitary napkins and suggests other alternatives such as menstrual cups and cloth pads. The film has evolved out of the work of Eco Femme and earth&us.
- AVAG’s Female Puberty Ritual Video – Anbu, Director of Auroville Village Action Group in Tamil Nadu, India, explains the 9-11 day female puberty ritual practiced throughout India. In this ritual, a girl’s first menstruation becomes public knowledge even though open discussion of menstruation and women’s hygiene management is often considered a taboo in all other situations.
Other organisations that inspire our research and approach:
- Dasra – actively shapes the process of social change by forming powerful partnerships with funders and social enterprises. We’ve been supported by them since 2014. Their report on improving menstrual health and hygiene in India entitled ‘Spot On’ is an important document to understand the impact of menstruation on adolescent girls in India, the obstacles they face and the initiatives that are making a difference.
- Menstrual Health Hub (MHH) – MHH see menstrual health as a more holistic & encompassing term that includes both Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) as well as the broader systemic factors that link menstruation with health, well-being, the environment & equity. We’re honoured to be part of MHH’s founding circle and look forward to working with them. Their Knowledge Hive is a fantastic collection of information which we highly recommend!
- IMHER is a new, free website designed to connect menstrual educators, entrepreneurs, and nonprofit groups with informational resources and with each other.
- Red School – Alexandra and Sjanie, founders of Red School, invite you to join us to rediscover and co–evolve a new conscious way for women. Taking this journey can transform many areas of your life—health and wellbeing, life and work management, creative and spiritual life. It is a vital tool for any woman who wants to live her life with depth and meaning.
- Green The Red – A volunteer collective of individual eco-warriors and eco-retailers passionate about changing the menstrual hygiene landscape in India by advocating and building awareness on sustainable menstrual hygiene practices and management solutions that are safe for the body, safe for the environment, safe for the sanitation workers and reduce the burden on our waste disposal systems.
- Red Web Foundation – a great source of menstrual awareness and education.
- Society for Menstrual Cycle Research – a non-profit, interdisciplinary research organisation that addresses the role of the menstrual cycle in women’s health and well-being.
- Women’s Environmental Network – a UK-based organisation that researches and campaigns on environmental and health issues from a female perspective. They won us over with Seeing Red: Sanitary Protection & The Environment, their briefing that tells the truth about the environmental and health impacts of disposable sanitary products.
- Women’s Voices for The Earth – a US-based organisation that amplifies women’s voices to eliminate the toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. Their Always Factsheet and article on chemicals in feminine hygiene products are well researched and valuable resources.
- Menstrupedia – A ground-breaking project seeking to advance community conversation around menstruation in India and the world.
- earth&us – We especially love their wonderfully well-written blog post discussing the problems caused by disposing of disposable pads in India – Disposable pads, disposable lives.
- Woman’s Wheel – a project from Eco Femme ambassador, Jane. She hosts Red Tents as well as giving workshops on the menstrual cycle.
- Menstrual Hygiene Day (MHD) is celebrated on 28th May each year. Their website has a wealth of information particularly their resources page.
We have also created a downloadable Book List of our recommended reads.