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Arunachalam Muruganantham is an Indian social entrepreneur who developed a machine to produce low-cost sanitary pads, addressing a taboo topic and improving menstrual hygiene in rural India. His innovation has been recognized internationally and he has received numerous awards for his work.
Muruganantham was born into a poor family in Tamil Nadu, India. After completing high school, he worked as a welder and later started a small business repairing and fabricating machines. In 1998, he married and his wife was unable to afford sanitary pads during her menstruation. When he tried to purchase pads for her, he was shocked by the high price and realized that many women in rural areas may not be able to afford them either.
He began researching the materials and production process for sanitary pads and attempted to create a low-cost alternative. However, he faced many challenges and setbacks, including being ostracized by his community for talking about menstruation and testing prototypes on himself. He eventually developed a machine that could produce pads at a fraction of the cost of commercial brands and worked to provide training and support to women who wanted to manufacture and sell the pads in their own communities.