When he realised his wife’s social work was in crisis because of sanitary waste disposal problems, Shyam Bedekar vowed to help her solve the problem of the pad. He created a machine named Ashudhdhinashak (an incinerator) to help women get rid of their sanitary napkins easily. His innovation has given millions of girls across the nation access to hygiene.
Sanitation remains a serious issue in rural India. Compared to 96% of women in Europe, only 6% Indian women use sanitary napkins. Shyam realized that there was a need to develop a low-cost incinerator for sanitary disposal, especially for rural areas where there is no system of garbage collection like in cities. If the disposal aspect was taken care of, it would become easier to convince women to use sanitary napkins. Watch the video below as the 55-year-old reveals the efficacy of his ingenious invention.
In the video, the innovator explains what inspired him to come up with Ashudhdhinashak. “Priced between ₹18,000 and ₹20,000, the electric incinerators that could help dispose of the used sanitary napkins were simply not affordable. So I designed a machine, keeping in mind that it should be easily acceptable in rural India, it should be cheap and it should be easy to operate.”
This was when Shyam came up with a practical solution: a terracotta incinerator, priced at one-tenth the cost. “You find terracotta pots in villages everywhere, so it does not even grab any attention. And it had to be easy to use because it would be used by women who mostly do household work. They all are comfortable with lighting a chulha. Starting a fire to burn the sanitary napkin inside the incinerator is as simple.”
Shyam has been able to install more than 2,000 such machines at universities, hostels and schools that come under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. His one-of-a-kind invention has changed the face of rural India.