Eco Femme is a women-led, social enterprise dedicated to being a scalable project with demonstrable impact that can be an example of how business and social responsibility really can go hand in hand. Founded in Auroville in 2010, our goal is to create environmental and social change through revitalising menstrual practices that are healthy, environmentally sustainable, culturally responsive and empowering for women around the world.
We produce and promote cloth washable menstrual pads, an alternative menstrual product, which lasts for approx 75 washes. Cloth menstrual pads are rapidly gaining acceptance around the world for their health, environmental and cost saving benefits. A woman who switches from using disposable to reusable menstrual pads can prevent an average 600 disposable pads from being thrown away during a 5 year period. A single disposable sanitary napkin takes an estimated 500 to 800 years to decompose – in a country like India with undeveloped waste disposal mechanisms and a vast population, cloth pad use can have a dramatic impact on waste reduction. Eco Femme pads are made of cotton flannel which is not only reusable but when cared for properly, can reduce the risk of infections and irritation.
We believe that women generating their own income is a key towards empowerment and greater freedom and development for women in under-served communities.
In addition to this, for every Eco Femme washable cloth pad sold outside India, a pad is donated to a girl in rural India as part of our Pad for Pad program. Four donations are clubbed together to form one kit that consists of 4 pads, a travel pouch, an educational booklet and care instructions. Pads are offered as a free choice to girls, ages 10-19, who come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The Pad for Pad sessions are designed to give girls the skills to manage their periods hygienically and with dignity, and the chance to relate to menstruation as a normal, healthy experience. We are reaching an average of 150 girls per month and partner with organisations across India to widen the reach of this program. The program is also regularly evaluated to receive the girls’ feedback and assess the usage and acceptance of the program.
In October 2013, we launched Pads for Sisters in order to make our products accessible to economically disadvantaged women (over 19 years old) at a subsidised price to organizations working with women who otherwise could not afford the products.