After spending years developing a simple machine to make inexpensive sanitary pads, Arunachalam Muruganantham has become the unlikely leader of a menstrual health revolution in rural India. Over sixteen years, Muruganantham’s machine has spread to 1,300 villages in 23 states and since most of his clients are NGOs and women’s self-help groups who produce and sell the pads directly in a “by the women, for the women, and to the women” model, the average machine also provides employment for ten women.
Muruganantham’s interest in menstrual health began in 1998 when, as a young, newly married man, he saw his wife, Shanthi, hiding the rags she used as menstrual cloths. Like most men in his village, he had no idea about the reality of menstruation and was horrified that cloths that “I would not even use… to clean my scooter” were his wife’s solution to menstrual sanitation. When he asked why she didn’t buy sanitary pads, she told him that the expense would prevent her from buying staples like milk for the family.
Muruganantham, who left school at age 14 to start working, decided to try making his own sanitary pads for less but the testing of his first prototype ran into a snag almost immediately: Muruganantham had no idea that periods were monthly. “I can’t wait a month for each feedback, it’ll take two decades!” he said, and sought volunteers among the women in his community. He discovered that less than 10% of the women in his area used sanitary pads, instead using rags, sawdust, leaves, or ash. Even if they did use cloths, they were too embarrassed to dry them in the sun, meaning that they never got disinfected — contributing to the approximately 70% of all reproductive diseases in India that are caused by poor menstrual hygiene.
Finding volunteers was nearly impossible: women were embarrassed, or afraid of myths about sanitary pads that say that women who use them will go blind or never marry. Muruganantham came up with an ingenious solution: “I became the man who wore a sanitary pad,” he says. He made an artificial uterus, filled it with goat’s blood, and wore it throughout the day. But his determination had severe consequences: his village concluded he was a pervert with a sexual disease, his mother left his household in shame and his wife left him. As he remarks in the documentary “Menstrual Man” about his experience, “So you see God’s sense of humour. I’d started the research for my wife and after 18 months she left me!”
After years of research, Muruganantham perfected his machine and now works with NGOs and women’s self-help groups to distribute it. Women can use it to make sanitary napkins for themselves, but he encourages them to make pads to sell as well to provide employment for women in poor communities. And, since 23% of girls drop out of school once they start menstruating, he also works with schools, teaching girls to make their own pads: “Why wait till they are women? Why not empower girls?”
As communities accepted his machine, opinions of his “crazy” behavior changed. Five and a half years after she left, Shanthi contacted him, and they are now living together again. She says it was hard living with the ostracization that came from his project, but now, she helps spread the word about sanitary napkins to other women. “Initially I used to be very shy when talking to people about it, but after all this time, people have started to open up. Now they come and talk to me, they ask questions and they also get sanitary napkins to try them.”
In 2009, Muruganantham was honored with a national Innovation Award in 2009 by then President of India, Pratibha Patil, beating out nearly 1,000 other entries. Now, he’s looking at expanding to other countries and believes that 106 countries could benefit from his invention.
Muruganantham is proud to have made such a difference: “from childhood I know no human being died because of poverty — everything happens because of ignorance… I have accumulated no money but I accumulate a lot of happiness.” His proudest moment? A year after he installed one of the machines in a village so poor that, for generations, no one had earned enough for their children to attend school. Then he received a call from one of the women selling sanitary pads who told him that, thanks to the income, her daughter was now able to go to school.
To read more about Muruganantham’s story, the BBC featured a recent profile on him at http://bbc.in/1i8tebG or watch his TED talk at http://bit.ly/1n594l6. You can also view his company’s website at http://newinventions.in/
To learn more about the 2013 documentary Menstrual Man about Muruganantham, visit http://www.menstrualman.com/
For resources to help girls prepare for and understand their periods - including several first period kits - visit our post on: “That Time of the Month: Teaching Your Mighty Girl about Her Menstrual Cycle” at www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=3281
To help your tween understand the changes she’s experiencing both physically and emotionally during puberty, check out the books recommended in our post on “Talking with Tweens and Teens About Their Bodies” at http://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=2229
And, if you’re looking for ways to encourage your children to become the next engineering and technology innovators, visit A Mighty Girl’s STEM toy section athttp://www.amightygirl.com/toys/toys-games/science-math
Awesome, dude. Awesome. I mean, AWESOME.
WHAT AN EPIC BADASS!
This man is awesome!
I hope that’s his wife putting pads together in the back. His swag is on 5hunna just because he’s part of the gotdamn solution!
GE scientists are developing superhydrophobic surfaces to keep ice off of aviation equipment and wind turbines. The Slow Mo Guys captured this footage with their Phantom Flex camera on a recent trip to GE Global Research.
The liquid looks like it’s going OH NO RUN AWAAAAAY
Physics in English Bithches!
I will never not post science!jokes.
Magic keyboard appears from flat touchscreens.
The Tactus system allows raised buttons or shapes to appear from a flat touch screen when required, helping users navigate keyboards, gaming controls, or other UI features.
Tactus has created a thin layer that can replace the Gorilla Glass on top of the touch sensor and display layers of a smartphone or tablet. The surface of that layer is a semi-elastic polymer under which there are little channels filled with a special transparent micro-fluid. To make buttons appear (for a keyboard, a game controller, whatever), you can increase the fluid pressure in a certain area. The added fluid physically stretches and raises the polymer surface.
Presto! Real buttons on your previously flat screen.
Check out this demo video for more.
Best scale of the universe since this video version of the scale of the universe.
THE RIPPLING SURFACE OF A SINGLE LAYER OF MOLECULES
"The layer is actually comprised of two different molecules that tend to separate something like oil and water, and in this image we’ve captured what that separation looks like at a very early stage," said Seth B. Darling (Argonne National Laboratory), who collaborated with Steven J. Sibener (University of Chicago) on the photograph.
Each of the millions of molecules in the image has sulfur at its head, but one type has carbon and hydrogen at the tail whereas the other has carbon and fluorine. The heights of the two molecule types differ by about 0.2 nanometers.
The image was featured on the cover of Science, February 18 2010.
(via National Geographic)
Amazing Natural Geometry in Cabbage
cutting veggies in half is a serious experience
Maybe I should eat vegetables more often…
Sixteen-year-old Elif Bilgin of Turkey has developed a way to replace traditional petroleum-based plastic with banana peels.
The Turkish teen took home a US$50,000 prize for her project “Go Bananas!” Thursday after winning the second annual Scientific American Science in Action Award, associated with Google Science Fair.
“My project makes it possible to use banana peels, a waste material which is thrown away almost every day, in the electrical insulation of cables,” Bilgin said in a media statement.
“This is both an extremely nature-friendly and cheap process, which has the potential to decrease the amount of pollution created due to the use of plastics, which contain petroleum derivatives.”
Bilgin spent two years developing the bio-plastic, which does not decay. She said the process is so easy that it is possible to repeat at home, with special care taken for chemicals used in the production process.
In September, the teen will compete at Google’s California headquarters for the overall Google Science Fair prize for 15-to-16 year olds. She will also have access to a one-year mentorship.
#always reblogging kickass teen girls doing kickass science
Bald Eagle gets a new 3D-Printed Beak
“Sometime in 2005, Beauty the bald eagle was shot in the face by a poacher, which damaged her beak badly enough that she couldn’t eat on her own. Animal rescue workers found her before she starved to death, and volunteers at the nonprofit group Birds of Prey Northwest nursed her back to health via tube-feeding and, later, hand-feeding with forceps. But it became increasingly clear that her beak was never going to grow back — meaning that Beauty would never be able to feed herself. She was on track to be euthanized.”
“But raptor specialist Jane Fink Cantwell, who dresses like Indiana Jones, refused to take “dead bald eagle” for an answer. She joined forces with mechanical engineer Nate Calvin of Kinetic Engineering Group, and together with other scientists, engineers, and even a dentist, they designed a nylon polymer beak that would perfectly replace Beauty’s lost upper mandible.
Calvin developed the new beak using a 3-D modeling program, then used a 3-D printer to fabricate it. After an arduous procedure to attach her prosthetic, Beauty was able to eat, drink, and preen herself on her own.”
OH WHAT THE EVER LIVING FUCK
I AM SO DONE.
WHO IS THIS MAN??? THE MOST INTERESTING MAN IN THE WRLD???
Window Socket - Kyuho Song & Boa Oh
So this is an absolutley brilliant idea! Just attach the plug on to a window and it will harness solar energy. A small converter will convert it into electricity which can be freely used as a plug when you are in the car, on a plane or outside.
Love this design and I really think it has a great potential.
First Algae-Powered Building Goes Up in Hamburg
A 15-unit apartment building has been constructed in the German city of Hamburg that has 129 algae filled louvered tanks hanging over the exterior of the south-east and south-west sides of the building—making it the first in the world to be powered exclusively by algae. Designed by Arup, SSC Strategic Science Consultants and Splitterwerk Architects, and named the Bio Intelligent Quotient (BIQ) House, the building demonstrates the ability to use algae as a way to heat and cool large buildings. (x)
You guys this is so cool: this building has the potential to be completely energy-independent, with the algae growing during the day and serving as power source, shade & cooling, UV protection, and a sound buffer. The outside of the building will also look really cool as the algae grow, and the panels change color and shift toward sunlight throughout the day.
The algae will essentially serve as a bioreactor, generating biomass which is processed into ‘biofuel’ which will then power the building’s activities (heating, electricity, etc.) throughout the day:The building is set to open later this month, and many researchers and engineers are eager to see if this idea can be practically applied to other buildings around the world.The algae flourish and multiply in a regular cycle until they can be harvested. They are then separated from the rest of the algae and transferred as a thick pulp to the technical room of the BIQ. The little plants are then fermented in an external biogas plant, so that they can be used again to generate biogas. Algae are particularly well suited for this, as they produce up to five times as much biomass per hectare as terrestrial plants and contain many oils that can be used for energy. (x)
Potentially, the concept could power whole buildings at very low running-costs and act as a CO2 sink.
(photo credit: x)
How Fracking Causes Earthquakes
Contributing Mother Jones writer Michael Behar “has an intriguing feature today that details the science behind the link between injection wells and earthquakes.”