Eco Femme Subsidized Pads
Kathy Walkling and Jessamijn Miedema
Eco Femme subsidized pads are washable, reusable pads which is equivalent of 75 disposable pads.
Eco Femme washable cloth pads are made of absorbent flannel cotton and worn like disposable pads to absorb menstrual flow. They can be washed and re-used for 75 washes with proper care. These pads are priced to be affordable for economically disadvantaged women in India.
Their pads are available in two models: the All-In-One pad resembles a disposable sanitary napkin with wings and the Foldable model is like a handkerchief, dries faster and looks inconspicuous on the clothesline. Both models have been thoroughly tested and accepted by girls and women, alike.
Eco Femme develops partnerships with grassroots organisations to extend reach and impact. Their main focus is on India’s demography, but have made exceptions from time to time to provide pads at cost price in other regional countries for reaching similar target groups.
They have partners in 17 states and 2 Union territories of India. (Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Kerala, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Nagaland, Tripura, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi and Pondicherry (UT))
The cross subsidy model at Eco Femme allows International sales (at premium prices) to support the Pad for Pad programme which educates rural girls about menstrual hygiene along with giving them an option of using cloth pads.
Pads For Sisters is another not-for-profit programme started by Eco Femme to make cloth pads accessible to economically disadvantaged women who are unable to afford the pads at commercial rates. Under this, pads are offered at Cost Price to organizations/individuals who wish to sponsor or gift pads to women, or at a further Subsidized rate (of about $1) for these women to purchase on their own.
Unsanitary materials like ash, sand, husk, dried leaves and newspaper; Traditional methods like reusable cloth pieces; Disposable sanitary napkins like from Always, Kotex and Whisper; Tampons; Menstrual Cups; Period panties
Goal 3 : Good health and well-being
Eco Femme pads are for all and are available internationally, online and in stores. Their not-for-profit programmes, however, target economically disadvantaged girls and women of India.
Reusable menstrual cloth pads are simple to stitch and can be stitched by any rural woman with a sewing machine and basic tailoring skills. Production for Eco Femme (stitching of pads) takes place in five units: AVAG (Auroville related NGO), Cocoon (Auroville related women’s production unit), Blossoms (Auroville unit), Ektha (a Bangalore based women’s producer company) and Clothing Connections (Kiruba unit). All five units ensure fair wages and safe working environments to the women employed there.
Eco Femme cloth pads serve an essential need, and we readily share details about materials and design. They have made available a Make-Your-Own kit and facilitate regular workshops to teach women how to stitch their own cloth pads. Eco Femme has created a production knowledge kit whereby they train organisations who have demonstrated significant market development for cloth pads and who would like to establish a production unit to primarily benefit women and girls from low income settings. Interview with the designer
Eco Femme pads can be bought online (from their website) as well as from many brick stores in India and abroad.
The pads can be sponsored or gifted to economically disadvantaged girls and women in India via their Pads For Sisters and Pad for Pad program. They can also be purchased by these women themselves at a subsidized rate, usually mediated by a third party (NGO).Interview with the designer
Between launching the program in 2013 and March 2020 Eco Femme has provided over 100,000 pads to low income beneficiaries under Pads for Sister program and sponsored 175,000 free pads to adolescent girls under the Pad for Pad program. Interview with the designer
Eco Femme are made of organic cotton.
Top of the pad : soft flannel cotton
Inside of the pad : ultra-absorbent cotton flannel
Back of the pad : PUL (polyurethane laminate) leakproof layer
Provided by manufacturerOnce the usable life is over, the flannel layers can be composted, and the snap buttons and PUL layer removed as mixed waste.
N/A, Single-use product
Eco Femme states that their products can last for 5 years, as the washable cloth pads have a leakproof layer of PUL (polyurethane laminate) which will last for approximately 75 washes.
Once the usable life is over, the flannel layers can be composted, and the snap buttons and PUL layer removed as mixed waste.Interview with designer
Eco Femme aims to produce products and practices that are healthy, dignified, affordable and eco-positive. They have set a target of providing 32000 pads to low income beneficiaries under Pads for sister program for 2020-2021.Interview with designer
Quality control is undertaken by Eco Femme itself. The pads are pre-cut for consistency. Before distribution, the pads undergo two rounds of quality checks, once at the tailoring site and a second time at Eco Femme’s office before they are sent to customers.Interview with designer
Pads must be washed properly in cold water and dried in the sunlight. Improper cleaning of the pads between uses could result in the pads carrying pathogens which could have detrimental health effects, effectively posing a similar risk as the use of traditional reusable cloth napkins made from old saris etc.Interview with designer
Pull your wet pad into shape to prevent shrinkage before drying it on the washing line in full
sunlight for best results or tumble dry on low heat. Interview with designer
Naomi, L., et al., 2017, Women Empowering Women Through Reusable Sanitary Pads. Jornal of community engagement and scholarship, vol. 10
Hennegan, J., et al., 2016, Schoolgirls’ experience and appraisal of menstrual absorbents in rural Uganda: a cross-sectional evaluation of reusable sanitary pads. Reprod Health, 13, pp. 143
Eco Femme conducted product testing with over 850 women and girls in rural India and reports that their product range found acceptance and appeal among a wide range of women from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Eco Femme made product revisions based on the insights gained from this product testing and the most popular models are now available for distribution.
The pads are made from hypoallergenic cotton to promote healthy skin.
In context photographs (0)
You can use the form below to contribute a photo of this product.
In context files & documents (0)
Feedback from users, customers & distributors
Please let us know your experience in using this product through comments below.