tag-iconThis program helps people in extreme need

Help poor women get access to sanitary pads by Goonj

This program helps people in extreme need

by Goonj
Help poor women get access to sanitary pads


Shalu is not afraid of her period anymore

**When Shalu got her period, no one including her mother spoke to her about it. She didn't know how to manage her bleeding.**Through a friend, she learned that she had to use a cloth to absorb the blood. Not knowing how to get a cloth, she ended up using pillow covers and bed sheets. This angered her mother and she got beaten up for wasting money.

She came to know of sanitary pads through a classmate. When she asked her for a few, she was snubbed saying they were expensive and could not be given away for free.

Shalu started falling sick with the fear of getting her period. With no access to sanitary products, she resorted to praying to God to stop her periods forever. Her period, which is a normal bodily function, became an unbearable trauma for Shalu.

It was during this time that Goonj came in with the 'Not Just A Piece of Cloth' initiative to her school. She got her 'My Pad' kit which came with 10 reusable pads, one undergarment and a menstrual hygiene awareness brochure. This kit changed her life and gave her the freedom to live like a normal adolescent child. She doesn't dread her period anymore and knows how to manage it.

Women in India's rural areas are struggling for the basic needs of life. A sanitary napkin is the last thing on the minds of most.

This simple piece of cloth saves many women from incidents of helplessness and indignity, which is why it is called 'Not just a piece of Cloth'. It is a solution which is practical, easy to use, and is environment-friendly.

Your monthly donation will help more girls and women like Shalu get access to My Pad kits. You can give with confidence because every program on our platform is GIVEASSURED. Give now and help women grow out of the culture of shame.


By donating to this program

you will be sponsoring the overall costs incurred to support the beneficiaries

About The Program

What the beneficiary gets
What you get
Tax Exemption
Periodic Reports
Program Description

Poor women, especially in rural areas, struggle to get a clean piece of cloth to manage their period every month. There is a lack of awareness about menstrual health and hygiene. Living in a culture of shame and silence, they end up using poor substitutes like rags and ash, or worse they use NOTHING.

This aggravates their day to day misery around this basic need. Goonj through its 'Not Just a Piece of Cloth' initiative has distributed more than 4 million cloth pads across India and organized thousands of awareness meetings among the most backward communities all across the country.

Goonj makes the urban masses aware of this basic need and motivates urban communities to contribute their cotton cloth. This cloth is sorted at their processing centers.

The un-wearable cloth is sorted out from the cotton and semi cotton cloth for making MY Pads. These are washed, sun-dried, cut, ironed, wrapped, and made into a pack. These packs also contain a leaflet with instructions, an undergarment, and a pouch for keeping used cloth pads.

When you donate to this program, you help women and girls in underprivileged communities get access to reusable cloth pads to manage their periods.

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About The NGO

Goonj Logo

Goonj is an award-winning social enterprise working to build a bridge between the cities and villages. They focus on empowering the communities in far-flung villages to solve their own problems. For the last 19 years they have established a culture of mindful giving in urban India. They collect vast stocks of everyday necessities; from clothes to medicines, that would otherwise have been thrown away.

Every year Goonj processes thousands of tons of urban surplus material to run 3000+ development activities across rural India. With the clothes as motivation, people build bridges, dig wells, repair roads and other community building activities. These people don't get material as charity but earn it as a reward for their work.

The work that Goonj does brings attention to essential but often ignored needs of people. Millions of kilograms of donated cloth is turned into sanitary pads, Sujnis, and Aasans, giving livelihood to thousands of people.

Goonj is a mass movement connecting people in the cities and villages of India as equal stakeholders.

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Founded in 1991
NGO Leadership

Anshu Gupta

areas of operation
Area of Operation
Area of Operation

Supplies | environment

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Location of Work
Location of Work


last audited
Last Audited
Periodic Compliance Checks by GiveIndia

Renewals FY 19-20

Program Updates

Program Updates

28 December, 2022

Help poor women get access to sanitary pads


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Activities and work undertaken in the last 5-6 months

In states such as Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh we have reached out to more than 12500+ women between January'22 to June'22.

Multiple Chuppi Todo Baithaks (Break the silence meetings) were organized to normalize the subject of menstruation and raise the awareness on menstrual health & hygiene. These awareness sessions include:

-Menstrual Health & Hygiene

  • Practical knowledge Menstruation such as Does & Don't on menstruation
  • Address the issue of shame & silence
  • How to make their own MY Pads

Later women in the villages were motivated to identify and work on solving their problem. Women came together to make privates bathing spaces along with nutrition gardens, clean waste bodies or take up sanitation activities using their own local resources and wisdom. This not only built assets that improved the health and hygiene ecosystem for their menstrual health but also created a sense of empowerment and ownership within the community.

Challenges faced and next steps

A vast majority of women in India still face many social, cultural and economic challenges during menstruation. Our focus is on normalization and mainstreaming of menstruation as a human issue in rural and urban India, while breaking the culture and ecosystem of shame and silence around menstruation. Multiple Chuppi Todo Baithaks (Break the silence meetings) were organized to normalize the subject of menstruation and raise the awareness on menstrual health & hygiene.

Stories from the ground

Nilmani lives in Lakhanakata, a far-flung village, in Saltora block of Bankura district in West Bengal. It is a drought prone geography, where making a living from agriculture is possible only in monsoon months. Here, most men work in stone quarries, while women depend on livestock and collect wood and leaves from the forests for their sustenance. For Nilmani and other women, getting three meals a day for their family is a big struggle.

In a ‘Break the Silence’ Goonj meeting of 20 local women, Nilmani said without hesitation, “My husband died 30 years ago. I am a mother to 5, and going somewhere else was not an option. With so many responsibilities on my head, my menstrual hygiene was never a priority. I never could buy or use market pads or arrange clean cloth for menstrual pads.” 28-year-old Mintati Soren from the same village shared,“This missed out attention to menstrual hygiene is common among women of our village. One day, when I returned from work, I felt intense pain in my vagina. I called my mother, who took me to the local doctor. To our utter shock, the doctor found an insect inside my body and the vaginal area was infected. The treatment cost us a lot.”

Our work with Not Just a Piece of Cloth (NJPC) on menstruation has been to get women like Nilmani to change their mindset and awareness around menstruation. The Goonj cloth pads ‘MY Pads’ made from urban surplus cotton/semi cotton cloth, also act as a nudge for this change.``We have been using MY Pads over the past year, and both the pads and undergarments have helped us tremendously and have improved our health. Goonj has encouraged us to make menstruation a priority.” Mintati Soren adds.

1 June, 2022

Help poor women get sanitary pads


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Activities and work undertaken in the last 5-6 months

Goonj has always talked about cloth as a metaphor for neglected needs and its connection with a woman's dignity. In the pandemic, millions of menstruating people took recourse to this option for their dignity. This need is also prioritized by Goonj when it comes to disaster response and relief material. Goonj urges the world to look at disasters with a much-needed gender lens, especially prioritizing menstruation as a basic human need. Keeping in mind the same thought process, Goonj channelized 1.06+ million of MY PADs (cloth sanitary pads) in various pockets across India. While the responsibility of taking action is on all of us, Goonj believes it is also incumbent on us to decentralize and co-create the solutions with people at every level of our society, from mothers, teachers, Asha workers to farmers as the first responders and contributors in the world.

With similar intentions, and with a Triple-A (Awareness, Affordability and Access) approach till December 2022, Goonj conducted 1200+ menstrual awareness sessions to address women's menstrual challenges comprehensively with more than 45,000+ participants in 28 states/Uts covering remotest areas of West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Mizoram, Telangana, etc. These sessions are not only meant to provide affordable and accessible options but also to break the culture of shame and silence around menstruation for the last women in rural and slum India and address their menstrual hygiene.

Challenges faced and next steps

The ongoing pandemic has deeply impacted women across geographies and socio-economic backgrounds. Goonj has been working on this issue with its initiative NJPC (Not Just a Piece of Cloth) across rural and urban India for more than 15 years now and has consistently highlighted the missing voices from the most rural corners through its sessions on menstrual awareness. The ongoing pandemic certainly disrupted the work as covid restrictions in different parts of the country made mobilization and awareness sessions difficult. However, with a decentralized, localized, customized model Goonj along with its 650+ partner organizations, worked during this time with the most neglected communities in 28 states/UTs.

For the next six months, Goonj aims to motivate urban masses to contribute cloth for making ‘MY Pads’, which are cloth sanitary pads for women who struggle even for this basic need—also encouraging rural women and communities to use their wisdom, resources and efforts to address their related sanitation, water-related issues and work with other menstruators across the missed-out communities and fill the gaps.

Stories from the ground

Women are fighting for their dignity in the Sub-Himalayan region of West Bengal’s Alipurduar district. The area comprises a significant workforce in tea garden estates; they are the primary labour force engaged in cultivation and harvesting. These women who toil the whole day for production have nobody to look after their menstrual hygiene and sanitation needs and thus take usually a backseat.

Lack of menstrual health awareness and sanitation implies that women are more susceptible to infections and allergies. Goonj aims to break the culture of shame and silence around menstruation for the last women in rural and slum India and address their menstrual hygiene challenges with a Triple-A approach on menstrual Access, Awareness and Affordability. They are motivating urban masses to contribute cloth for making ‘MY Pads’ cloth sanitary pads for women who struggle for this need. Goonj aims to break the culture of shame and silence around menstruation for the last women in rural and slum India and address their menstrual hygiene challenges with a Triple-A approach on menstrual - Access, Awareness and Affordability.

They are motivating urban masses to contribute cloth for making ‘MY Pads’ cloth sanitary pads for women who struggle even for this basic need. Under the NJPC initiative, Goonj reached out to 310 women/adolescent girls in 5 villages (Sadkodali, Poro Basti, Panbari, Garobasti and Gadadhar ) of Alipurduar in West Bengal to initiate a dialogue by conducting awareness session on menstrual health and hygiene management. They were also given MY Pads, Goonj’s reusable biodegradable cloth sanitary pads, which served as an essential tool to bridge the critical resource gap and encouraged them to share their stories of menstrual health challenges and discrimination.

28 November, 2021

Half-Yearly Update


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Activities and work undertaken in the last 5-6 months

The ongoing pandemic brought everything to an abrupt halt and disrupted normalcy worldwide. The impact of the crisis differs and is deepened for women across different geographies, socio-economic backgrounds with limited resources and opportunities. For the majority of those women who are already battling poverty, access to basic menstrual products, safe sanitation space, access to water, sanitation and are from marginalized communities their realities are doubly compromised as they manoeuvre menstrual challenges amid global pandemic. Thousands of menstruators were left with no choices as they could neither afford menstrual products nor any health care or medicines for menstrual pain. Unavailability of sanitary pads, cloth pads, or even a clean cloth was one of the major issues reported by menstruators. In rural areas, prevalent stigmas/taboos have further exacerbated their menstrual challenges while in isolation with limited resources and scope of mobility. Under such a grim situation, till June Goonj channelized more than 7,30,000 pieces of cloth pads and reached out to the most marginalized women in the remotest villages of India and some of the biggest disasters through the Triple-A approach (Awareness, Access & Affordability).

Challenges faced and next steps

Under Goonj’s Triple-A approach (Awareness, Access & Affordability), Goonj holds hundreds of Break the Silence Meetings (Chuppi Todo Baithaks) with women in urban and rural India, Goonj teams across India listen to women talk about challenges, myths, the culture of shame and silence, taboos, health risks etc. Also used as a medium to spread information on the importance of menstrual and personal hygiene. However, due to the prevailing pandemic and the social distancing, conducting such meetings became a challenge. Nonetheless, Goonj utilized every opportunity to brief about Menstrual Health & Hygiene to women in need & building a narrative by highlighting the Dignity of women and other missed out issues in the larger menstrual health ecosystem.As the Covid 19 situation improves, Goonj will work towards mobilizing and motivating women to take action against their Menstruation Related Problems. Since Goonj does not believe that Charity/aid can sustain in the long run as charity takes away a person’s dignity, and no development is possible without dignity. With this principle, women who receive the material packs, are asked to first identify and solve any of their own menstrual or other problems, with their efforts, local resources and wisdom. The material kits are then reached as a reward for their efforts. As solutions are discussed & actions are taken, it results in the making of hundreds of nutritional gardens, private spaces, cleaned up their water bodies, etc, empowering rural communities.

Stories from the ground

Even a small change can go a long way. To spread awareness about the importance of menstrual hygiene, our team decided to visit Pandua village in the Puri district of Odisha. During the visit, we found out that most of the women there barely had any information about menstrual issues. They use cloth but maintenance of hygiene is usually overlooked. Also, our team observed that there were no bathrooms in the village and women had to bathe and change in the open. Our team initiated conversations with the community regarding these issues and suggested ideas to deal with them. Following this, the locals, under Goonj’s (NJPC) initiative, decided to build a proper changing room, specifically for the women. With no prior knowledge of how to build a bathroom-like structure, the room that the women had built earlier was revamped to provide them safety as well as comfort and was rebuilt using bamboo and soil.35-year-old Ranjeeta Maharana, a resident, said, “Because many people bathe in the pond, the women were always uncomfortable while changing and longed for a little privacy. Goonj’s idea of making a changing room will benefit all of us tremendously. I don’t want anything else from Goonj. This is more than enough. I believe that their thought process and our ability to work hard will create a new kind of unity and partnership. We are using the room as an SHG meeting place as well. This way the changing room has given us a double benefit.”Innumerable women still resort to unhygienic ways of menstrual protection. To make it worse, there is inadequate access to toilet facilities and clean water. Menstruation is such a taboo that women are even ashamed to seek medical advice or freely discuss it with their daughters. This further impacts their health and well-being. Thus, making the women here aware of the issue was just a little step, but a major leap towards better menstrual hygiene.

23 March, 2021



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In a society which usually treats issues surrounding menstruation as a stigma and a taboo, the outlook of people of Rajasthan‘s Kharadi Phala village towards this subject is a testament to the positive change which is slowly, but steadily engulfing the country.

Situated approximately 70 km from Udaipur, Kharadi Phala houses around 290 families. It was here that Team Goonj, under its Not Just a Piece of Cloth (NJPC) initiative, conducted a meeting primarily to raise awareness and foster education on the subject of menstruation and women's health. To effectively conduct the meeting, informative banners and posters were put in place, which surprisingly, attracted an unusual crowd. As a refreshing surprise, 10 men spent a lot of time reading the posters and also participated in the NJPC session. The attendees, comprising 10 men and 60 women, gave a patient hearing to the insights and information furnished by Team Goonj. When Team Goonj wished to speak with the women attendees about their menstrual problems, the men folk quietly excused themselves from the session for the last 10 minutes, conscious of the fact that their presence could be a possible hindrance to an open discussion. Such was the positive outlook of the men that they wanted, women and men alike, to be educated about menstrual hygiene. They were even supportive of women expressing their discomfort or problems faced due to menstruation. Stressing on the importance of the NJPC session, some men expressed saying, “Activities such as these are very important for women. If they are quiet and won’t speak up about the difficulties and discomfort they face, how can we understand their difficulties?”

The outlook of these positive-thinking, open-minded gentlemen of Kharadi Phala village, hopefully, will soon be shared by many others, shunning the unnecessary and unwarranted taboos and stigmas surrounding this subject.

5 August, 2020

Putting cloth into perspective: Understanding deeper connect between women, clean cloth and dignity.


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Putting cloth into perspective: Understanding deeper connect between women, clean cloth and dignity.

4 months in a year the women of Kandhamal district in Odisha work in paddy fields, while the rest of the year they seek out a living by making utensils out of Sal Tree leaves. Speaking with these women about their menstruation, during a Chuppi Todo Baithak (Break the Silence Meeting), we found that among the many menstrual taboos they face, the most hurting is being barred from working in the fields during their period. Talking about their health, lack of a nutritious diet emerged as a big challenge..With help from our team, they planted various local vegetables and fruit seeds. In just a few weeks time, they will have fresh vegetables to make their own food, ensuring better nutrition and some extra left to sell for extra income.

No one could blame 17-year-old Reshma, for her reluctance in taking a bath at the local dug well in her village. In the name of public convenience, it was made in the middle of the village, where it was constantly surrounded by people. On her period days, it became much tougher for here and other women to bathe out in the open. It's no wonder that most preferred to skip the bath altogether. This we found when Reshma spoke out at a Goonj Chuppi Todo Baithak( Break the Silence meeting) at Sulumuha village in Daringabadi in Odisha.When the Goonj team encouraged these women to evolve a solution, they unanimously decided to make a covered bathing space around their local dug well. Collecting local bamboo, leaves and ropes to create the structure, over 20 women worked together and created a basic but usable structure in just 1 day

Chandana from the Prajaghari village of Jharkhali in Sundarbans, was the sole earner of her family of three. Everyday she risked her life to catch fish in the nearby creek. Struggling for basics, she used anything from mud to leaves during her periods. She first participated in a mangrove plantation project with Goonj in her village. That’s when she received her first pad as a reward for her efforts, as Goonj’s My Pad. When our teams spoke to her about menstrual health and hygiene, she realized the importance and connect it has with her health.

19 November, 2019

Hygiene kits and informative sessions being provided


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Hygiene kits and informative sessions being provided

9 April, 2019


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Program Update

Millions of women in India and in many other parts of the world still struggle for basic clothes to cover their body. For them this struggle becomes bigger as they also struggle for a basic piece of cloth for their menstruation every month in an environment of strong silence and shame around this issue. In such a scerio they end up using rags, ash, newspapers, jute bags, used pads, sand in dire compulsion or worse they using NOTHING. This all pervasive taboo around this basic need is present in the cities and villages of India which prevents women from even voicing their menstrual challenges.

Goonj has been working on this issue for the past decade, focused on evolving a comprehensive solution around what we call the three A’s (Awareness, Access and Affordability), with a larger focus on creating a space for women to talk about their menstrual challenges and treat it as a normal. That is why our work around this issue is not just about providing pads or a product, but to trigger a mass scale dialogue in the society and make it a normal issue.

The clean cloth ‘MY Pads’ we make from surplus cotton cloth from the cities act as a talking point with women in villages and slums about related health and hygiene issues and breaking the silence and shame around it by creating a safe space for women to share their challenges and restrictions and make it normal.
In the last 3 years, we have reached out with over 19, 27,000 cloth My-pads and over 95,000 under garments to women creating awareness on menstrual hygiene and breaking the silence on the subject.

Story from the field

Goonj’s Break the Silence Meetings ‘Chuppi Todo Baithak’ with women across rural India are insightful about their menstrual awareness and health issues.
One such story is from Ambapada village of Banswara district in Rajasthan. Rough roads connecting to the nearest market are 10 kms away for any woman who wants to buy a sanitary cloth/pad. The land here is fertile but the farmers have to depend on rain for farming. Life overall is tough as many people survive as daily wages laborers struggling on a day to day basis.
Like many other villages of India there is little awareness among men and women about menstrual health and hygiene, in a culture of shame and silence and taboos. When Goonj’s team reached this area and started a dialogue with the women of the area about this basic, there were hardly any women or adolescent girl who spoke up in our Break the Silence Meeting.
On a specific question to the 14 year-old Kanchan about her menstrual practices, the conversation started as she spoke up. With some hesitation Kanchan shared how she had no idea what menstruation was when she first menstruated. She shared that she was very scared but her mother just gave her a piece of saree and never explained the reason for menstruation.
Kanchan shared that she uses whatever cloth is available to her at home; blouse piece to trouser etc for this purpose. She also shared the many taboos and don’ts she faces during those five days like not being allowed to enter the kitchen or not allowed to touch anybody, forbidden from going to temple. Even going to school is not allowed during menstruation.
All these restrictions make her very angry but her mother has only one response “This is how women are supposed to live their lives.
When Goonj team started implementing menstrual hygiene related awareness in Kanchan’s village under our Not Just A Piece Of Cloth (NJPC) initiative, she and other adolescent girls and women of her village learnt about many critical things about menstruation like hygiene practices around using cloth pad and disposal of used sanitary cloth etc. The Break the silence meetings with the girls and women of the community provide a much needed space, where they can talk openly, discuss and unlearn the culture of shame and their menstrual challenges.