Menstrual cups were introduced on a massive scale in the country as part of the Social development programme, by HMA. “Thinkal – Awareness creation and distribution of menstrual cups” is a project, that was launched with the intention to curb menstrual waste, and thus create awareness, provide and encourage women to use menstrual cups and ensure proper menstrual hygiene.
Despite their long history, people were unfamiliar with the concept of menstrual cups in India, although acceptance and use of disposable sanitary napkins was widespread, especially in the developing countries. The idea of introducing M-Cups came from relief camps in Alappuzha municipality during the 2018 floods in Kerala. Water logged areas, restricted women from access to safe menstrual hygiene products and the sanitary pads supplied by various agencies had clogged community toilets in relief camps, leading to enfeebling effects on health and environment. Therefore, HLL Management Academy (HMA) came to tackle the issue by identifying it and tried to create awareness and distribute M-Cups in Alappuzha municipality.
This project was implemented with the CSR support of Coal India Ltd, with the cooperation of LSGDs, local NGOs, health workers, medical practitioners and with the technical support of the Corporate R&D team of HLL. Initially, the biggest challenge before the civic body was to convince women to move from pads to menstrual cups. Later it was found that, in Alappuzha municipality, more than 90% of users decided to continue using M-Cups. This was a clear indication to promote the widespread use of M-cups.
The second phase of the project was implemented in Kochi Municipal Corporation with the CSR funding from Air India Express, which was also a great success. Following the pace, in the FY 2021-22 with the CSR support of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd and HLL Lifecare Ltd, HMA was able to reach out to more than 50,000 beneficiaries across Kerala. Now, we are planning to expand our horizon to other states in the country.
HMA along with the CSR funding of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd has implemented ‘Thinkal’ -Awareness creation and distribution of M-cup among 22,500 women at Ernakulam district in the FY 2021-22. The project was inaugurated on 13th November 2021 by Kerala Industries Minister P. Rajeev. Within a span of five months, we distributed 22,500 M-cups to the female population in Ernakulam. The primary area of focus included the coastal belt of Ernakulam. In addition to that, the project was implemented at various municipalities, Block/Grama Panchayats and corporation limits of the city. The awareness and distribution of M-cup was done with the support of LSGB, NGOs, SHGs, organizations etc.
Kumbalingi Grama Panchayat, the first model tourism village in the country, was declared as the first panchayat in India to be sanitary napkin free by Shri. Arif Mohammed Khan, Hon’ble Governor of Kerala, on 13th January 2022.
Kochi Metro Rail Limited has, not only conducted M-cup awareness and distribution among their employees but also among the women commuters of KMRL. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, KMRL opened M-Cup awareness desk at their metro stations and distributed M-cups to the women commuters.
HMA with the CSR funding from HLL Lifecare Limited executed Thinkal project in the capital city. The project was kick started on 7th October 2021 and was inaugurated by Honourable health minister of Kerala Smt. Veena George. In this project we had conducted awareness creation sessions and distributed 15,200 menstrual cups in five months. On the occasion of International Women’s day HLL Lifecare Ltd. in association with Kerala State Women’s Development Corporation Ltd opened M-Cup awareness desk at Nishagandhi open auditorium. The primary focus area of the project was the coastal belt of Trivandrum especially in Shankhumukham and Valiyathura.
Through LSGB projects we could enhance and strengthen the institutional capacity of the local government system in Kerala. In the FY 2021-22, M-cup project was executed at three block Panchayats and 2 Grama Panchayats covering 8194 beneficiaries. Medical professionals conducted classes for Panchayat officials and distribution of menstrual cups were done after the awareness sessions, through corresponding PHC in each Panchayat
Thinkal –Awareness Creation and distribution of M-Cups was executed without margin in various organizations like Keltron, TVS, Aster medicity, VBD and CMO. The project benefitted a total of 1836 working women
As a social initiative, HMA feels mesmerised and privileged that, M- cups which were once spoken in few circles and discussed in whispers have reached out to thousands of people within a very short span of time through ‘THINKAL’- Awareness creation and distribution of M-cup.
This project could potentially become successful in the long run when women in various parts of the country truly understand the importance of making the shift from sanitary napkins to M-cups. Advocating the importance of menstrual hygiene to the female population in our country can change their perceptions about its relevance in the current times. Switching to M-cups can empower women of today as it is an economically viable choice for them in the long run.