In many parts of India, urban and rural alike, topics like menstrual hygiene in particular, and feminine hygiene generally, are still considered taboo. It might be surprising to some of us here, since we are so used to using sanitary pads, tampons, or menstrual cups. But it just isn’t the same everywhere.

For one there’s a stigma attached to the reproductive process and anything even remotely hinting at sex is hushed to dead quiescent. The worst part is that it is ubiquitous, this blatant negligence of the importance of feminine hygiene. Girls regularly skip school for a week during a month, they often use infectious material like rags, old newspaper, sand, twigs and to aggravate this, tampons/pads are too expensive and unaffordable for a majority of girls in India. This is clearly a loss of a human, economic and time resource. What should be embraced as a natural bodily process, only serves to restrict mobility and manifests itself as Lucifer’s waterfall at best.

This is where a story of a man fits in. In order to create sanitary pads after discovering his wife used rags when on her period, this man brought about a revolution which has changed the lives of millions of women in our country.

pepper, chili
Photo courtesy of Josh Talks

When he realized his wife had to choose between buying family meals and buying her monthly "supplies," he decided to do a little project himself. He went out to buy sanitary pads and at the age of 29, saw a sanitary pad for the first time. He realised that with cotton as the raw material, the pads in the market are simply overpriced. He faced unique challenges. To begin with, no female member of the family were ready to support his little research, because how could they start talking about such taboo issues? He then did the unthinkable: used the pad himself, braved a divorce notice from his wife, and served the rural women in a way no one else had.

Recognized as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME magazine, alongside Barack Obama, we present to you, Arunachalam Muruganantham. He is one among the 24 remarkable people JOSH Talks is bringing together, creating a monsoon of impactful stories. From innovation to design, entrepreneurship to filmmaking, technology to music—we have it all covered.

Be there, as a part of the extravaganza that awaits you on the 22nd and 23rd of October at Thyagraj Stadium with 6,000 similar, smart, driven, and talented people. You can buy tickets here