Off the Rag: DIY Pad-Making in Rural India

by Maggie Carr

In rural India, over 80 percent of women use rags, often ripped from old clothing, to manage their monthly visit from good ol’ Aunt Flo. Though we’re all about environmentally friendly period solutions here at BUST, the statistics tell a different story: the often unsanitary rag cloths that women use during their periods can cause infections and even infertility, cancer, and death.


When inventor Muruganantham found out that his wife used rag cloths, he went where no man has gone before:  he not only designed a sanitary pad, but tested it himself.



Over the last five years, the former high-school dropout has figured out a way to cheaply produce his pads with minimal machinery—and employed rural women as workers and salespeople. It’s a smart idea. Period.

Women packaging pads in a rural workshop.

Chithra Jeyaram’s short doc Rags to Pads takes a fascinating look at Muruganantham’s business model and women spreading the pad gospel to their friends and family. It’s also a finalist in the FOCUS FORWARD short-film competition—if you love the film as much as we do, vote for it by clicking the button in the top right corner of the screen!


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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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