Saathi Biodegradable Sanitary Pads: #OneMillionPads Program

For: Women in rural Jharkhand, India
Ahmedabad, GJ, India
Organizer: Saathi Founders: Amrita Saigal & Kristin Kagetsu & Grace Kane
of $20,000 goal
74% Complete
Raised by 235 donors

The Story

#OneMillionPads Program

Beginning in November 2016, Saathi will provide education on menstrual health and hygiene and distribute biodegradable sanitary pads to women in rural Jharkhand. Saathi is embarking on this program in partnership with Ekal Vidyalaya, one of India’s largest education NGOs, which has a network of over 56,000 schools in every state in India. 

A central aim of the #OneMillionPads Program is to better understand the impact of sanitary pad provision on school/work attendance and health, and to pilot the use of local pad composting schemes to minimize environmental impact. The ultimate result of the pilot will be is a proven framework for cradle-to-cradle pad provision which can be deployed anywhere in India.

Thank you for eliminating barriers to success for rural Indian girls and women! All donations fund the #OneMillionPads program.

 1: Low Access to Sanitary Pads

Every year, a quarter of all Indian schoolgirls miss up to 50 days of school for a simple reason – they have no adequate menstrual protection. This is one of the main reasons for high dropout rates amongst school aged girls in rural India. Additionally, 31% of working women in India miss a month of work each year because of menstruation. While sanitary pads have been demonstrated to improve women's education, productivity and health, only 16% of women in India use them. Taboos around menstruation prevent women from being educated about their own menstrual health and hygiene. 300 million women are barred from using sanitary pads because existing pads are:

  • Expensive
  • Unavailable in rural areas
  • Cumbersome/unsafe to discard

Problem 2: Sanitary Pad Waste

Simply providing sanitary pads, however, would create another huge problem for these women and their communities: pad waste. Most sanitary pads are made of non-biodegradable plastic, chemical additives and chlorine-bleached wood pulp containing cancer-linked dioxins. Because of the poor waste infrastructure, pads that do reach rural India end up in open trash-burning heaps or clogging and poisoning waterways. In some cases, the stigma against disposing of pads in public causes girls to burn them secretly beside their own homes, directly exposing themselves to the dangerous fumes. When all 355 million Indian women of menstruating age have access to pads, they will generate 1,000,000 tons of waste annually.


Saathi biodegradable sanitary pads support women's empowerment and health, and their environment. In rural India especially, the three are closely interlinked and both need to be preserved. Our founding team from MIT has developed a biodegradable, disposable sanitary napkin. 5% of the pad is made of plant-based plastics, the other 95% from banana fiber, one of the most naturally absorbent fibers abundant in India. In contrast to big-brand pads, which can remain in landfills for 600 years, Saathi pads biodegrade fully within 6 months, causing no damage to the environment. If composted, they can be transformed into organic nitrate fertilizer, or if digested into biogas energy.

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on May 19, 2017

Posted on May 19, 2017

We are so excited that the #OneMillionPads program is taking off! In April, we conducted a baseline study and held a 2-day training on menstrual hygiene for the Arogya sevikas (village healthcare workers). It was incredible to be able to have such intimate conversation about menstruation with both the sevikas and the girls and women who were surveyed during the baseline survey. We can't wait to publish the results of the baseline survey in the next few weeks.

In May, we held a second training for the Arogya sevikas to teach them about Saathi biodegradable pads. It was also Mother's Day and we had a fun time playing with the kids! Read more on our blog, Menstrual Musings.

As always, we cannot thank you enough for making the #OneMillionPads program possible! We look forward to providing you more regular updates on the progress and impact of the program.

Team Saathi

Posted on December 20, 2016

Posted on December 20, 2016

Thank you to our most recent supporters for helping to bring pads to Jharkhand!
  • Saathi presented at the 2016 Disruptive Innovation Festival! You can still see their session "Cradle to Cradle Manufacturing in India" at this link: #thinkdif
  • We won a $10,000 grant from Asia Society to scale up manufacturing and launch in the urban market.
  • We were finalists in the social category of TiE and CII's Spirit of Manufacturing Award for 2016
  • AJ+ published a feature video about Saathi (please share the video!)
Thank you for supporting us so far! We have a lot of upcoming events as well including:
  • A recruiting workshop with both design and supply chain components held in Ahmedabad next week! 
  • Makerfest in January where we'll be running a workshop and have a booth.
  • Externs from MIT will be joining us for January.
  • We'll be competing in the Tata Social Enterprise Challenge in Jan.
  • edie Awards will be in London at the end of Jan, if you are in London and interested in this event, please send an email to [email protected]

If you don't already, please do follow us on FB, Twitter, and LinkedIn for more frequent updates! :)

Posted on December 2, 2016

Posted on December 2, 2016

Hello supporters! We wanted to share that we've been in production for 2 months now! Can't believe how fast time flies. 

We have been very busy with competitions as well and are excited to share some updates!
  • We had another round of user trials.
  • We were finalists in the WE Challenge contest.
  • We had an exciting video shoot which we'll hopefully be able to share with you all soon.
  • We were selected as the winner of the 2016 Asia 21 Action Lab grant which will be presented to us in Seoul in December.
  • Saathi presented at the 2016 Disruptive Innovation Festival! You can still see their session "Cradle to Cradle Manufacturing in India" at this link: #thinkdif
  • We were a featured innovator at the "Partnering for Change: Gender Equality & Technology" conference hosted by USAID Indiaat the U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai.
  • Saathi was the Social Startup National Runner-Up at IIM Ahmedabad's Business Plan Competition.
  • Saathi is proud to be a finalist for the International edie Sustainability Leaders Awards! We are competing with Samsung Electronics and other big names for the year's best Sustainable Product Innovation.
Thank you for supporting us so far! We have a lot of upcoming events as well including:
  • Asia 21 Action Lab
  • Demo Day Finale in Chennai
  • Makerfest in January where we'll be running a workshop and have a booth.
Saathi is proud to represent the city of Ahmedabad at Demo Day 2016. You can help us score extra points by selecting "Ahmedabad" as your favorite Startup City! Vote here: #SCDD2016 #Ahmedabad

In addition, we're hiring! Our Mechanical Design Engineer, Harshal, shares the story of how he became a prototyping expert! If you would like to work at Saathi, visit read his blog here:

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