Myna Mahila is a social enterprise that tackles menstruation product access and female hygiene taboos by empowering women. Due to stigma surrounding reproductive and menstruation products, women -- especially those from underprivileged communities -- are hesitant to purchase proper sanitary pads, increasing the risk for infection. Focusing on the Govandi slums in Mumbai, Myna Mahila employs women to manufacture and sell affordable sanitary and maternity pads back in their communities, improving their hygiene, providing stable employment, and building a trusted network. Myna Mahila runs many educational programs and campaigns, relying on monetary and in-kind local and foreign donations from individuals and foundations. They were one of seven organizations nominated to receive donations during the 2018 royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Additionally, they run a shop that sells products created by their entrepreneurs.
In response to COVID-19, Myna Mahila launched an eight-point strategy, providing supplies, disseminating COVID-19 information, setting up a women’s helpline and textline, producing masks, and researching problems with access to care during this turbulent time. In addition, they released the Myna Health phone app to provide digital tools, like period trackers, health videos, and COVID-19 information. During the period of crisis in India brought by the second wave of COVID-19, Myna Mahila is developing a mobile clinic, which involves vehicles providing healthcare services, menstrual hygiene and medical supplies including Oxygen Concentrators from location to location while monitoring the health conditions of patients locally. The clinic will help people in urban slums who are not leaving their houses out of fear and stigma as well as pregnant women who do not have access to antenatal care. It will also support women and children struggling to get quick access to health services, information and response. In the process, the mobile clinic will serve as a major step toward bridging the gap between the supply and demand for oxygen cylinders in those communities.
Theory of Change
Tackling female health issues by placing women at the center of education, production and distribution of sanitary pads empowers women, improves their standard of living, and shifts social norms.
Myna Mahila’s pad production facility is staffed by local women and distributes feminine products to communities and hospitals. They support these working women by providing in-house daycare. They also run a biannual Health Camp, educational sessions in schools, campaigns in universities, conferences, competitions, parades, and marathons - all to raise awareness, create safe spaces for discussion, and build women’s networks.
Myna Mahila works with 18 local women and over 20 saleswomen who have so far manufactured over 500,000 pads distributed across 15 urban slums. Their local pad businesses receive a 90% repeat customer rate and 500,000 women have switched from cloth rags to Myna pads.