When Arunachalam Muruganantham hit a wall in his research on creating a sanitary napkin for poor women, he decided to do what most men typically wouldn’t dream of. He wore one himself–for a whole week. Fashioning his own menstruating uterus by filling a bladder with goat’s blood, Muruganantham went about his life while wearing women’s underwear, occasionally squeezing the contraption to test out his latest iteration. It resulted in endless derision and almost destroyed his family. But no one is laughing at him anymore, as the sanitary napkin-making machine he went on to create is transforming the lives of rural women across India.
Muruganantham is himself an uneducated poor man who came to the invention of sanitary napkins because his wife wore rags, telling him that she couldn’t afford milk for the family otherwise. She is in the same situation as 80% of Indian women. Can you imagine that?
In his investigation of the situation, he found that a machine to produce sanitary napkins costs half a million dollars and so was left to large multinational corporations, pricing the napkins out of reach.
Eventually Muruganantham invented a low cost machine ($2500) and has founded a company whose purpose is to obtain the machines and train rural women to use them as a microbusiness. In this way, it provides rural independence and employment as well as affordable sanitary napkins for rural women.
Read the whole story at the link above–his journey and his various research methods are fascinating. He endured mockery and abandonment (his wife and mother left him but came back in the end). Patriarchy zero, invention and compassion 10.