Cairn Oil & Gas has launched an initiative called Resham in Barmer, Rajasthan, focused on production of low-cost and high-quality sanitary napkins by women and self-help groups. A number of women from local villages in Barmer district have joined Rajjo Devi, a 27-year-old woman working on the issue of female hygiene, in this mission.

Cairn has helped set up the sanitary-pad manufacturing units in Kau Ka Kheda, Mundhon Ki Dhani, Dhandlawas and other villages in Barmer district. However, it is not clear if the company provides any other support to this initiative. Questions on this initiative received no response from the PR representative or the company.

The pads are sold to women and girls who were earlier using cloths during menstrual period. Each pack consisting of two napkins is sold at Rs 5.

Sanitary machines are operated through 10 SHGs that have been trained to manufacture, package, market and sell the product. Wood pulp, purchased from Coimbatore, is used to produce these cheap sanitary napkins. Currently, a woman can earn upto Rs 50 per day, with the average daily production being 750 sanitary pads per day. While still not a significant amount, the monetary gain is perhaps aided by the health benefits that come with better hygienic practices.

The aim is to reduce the issue of poor menstrual hygiene, which is linked to high rates of cervical cancer in India. This initiative hopes to combine health and livelihoods interventions by helping women from poor communities to improve their economic status and health status. The results remain to be seen.