More about washable pads: General subject - 19th century Italian - 19th century Norwegian - Pattern for home sewing - Snap-on - With underpants - With belt
See another washable pad project in India, in Rajasthan.
More about menstrual seclusion: Dogon of Mali - Hawaiian - Suriname (discussed by Sally Price, Dittman Professor of American Studies at the College of William and Mary, who spent many periods in menstrual huts)
I believe most women in Europe probably bled into their clothing (into their underclothing, a chemise - see it) before 1900; read about this.
Read about the washable pad project for the neighboring Indian state, Rajasthan.
Ads for the Kotex stick tampon (U.S.A., 1970s) - a Japanese stick tampon from the 1970s.
Early commercial tampons - Rely tampon - Meds tampon (Modess)
CONTRIBUTE to Humor, Words and expressions about menstruation and Would you stop menstruating if you could?
Some MUM site links:
homepage | MUM address & What does MUM mean? | e-mail the museum | privacy on this site | who runs this museum?? |
Amazing women! | the art of menstruation | artists (non-menstrual) | asbestos | belts | bidets | founder bio | Bly, Nellie | MUM board | books: menstruation and menopause (and reviews) | cats | company booklets for girls (mostly) directory | contraception and religion | costumes | menstrual cups | cup usage | dispensers | douches, pain, sprays | essay directory | extraction | facts-of-life booklets for girls | famous women in menstrual hygiene ads | FAQ | founder/director biography | gynecological topics by Dr. Soucasaux | humor | huts | links | masturbation | media coverage of MUM | menarche booklets for girls and parents | miscellaneous | museum future | Norwegian menstruation exhibit | odor | olor | pad directory | patent medicine | poetry directory | products, current | puberty booklets for girls and parents | religion | Religión y menstruación | your remedies for menstrual discomfort | menstrual products safety | science | Seguridad de productos para la menstruación | shame | slapping, menstrual | sponges | synchrony | tampon directory | early tampons | teen ads directory | tour of the former museum (video) | underpants & panties directory | videos, films directory | Words and expressions about menstruation | Would you stop menstruating if you could? | What did women do about menstruation in the past? | washable pads
Leer la versión en español de los siguientes temas: Anticoncepción y religión, Breve reseña - Olor - Religión y menstruación - Seguridad de productos para la menstruación.


Washable menstrual pads for women in Almora, Uttar Pradesh state,
India, giving them more freedom (1999) (page 1)

Dr. Margaret Greene, of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, Takoma Park, Maryland, U.S.A., visited the Museum of Menstruation when it was in my house (see pictures here), and later sent me the pages and the information accompanying the pages, below and on two linked pages. (Her explanatory letter appears below the illustration below.)

The main picture, below, shows women sitting in a cow shed during their menstrual period, which they traditionally must do. At right, women are shown the way to wear the wood-ash pad, rather than bleed into their clothing for a week, which they normally do (cross on pants). This disguises their menstruation, allowing them to pursue normal activities, at least for part of their period. Western women also conceal their menstrual periods; advertising supports this. And I believe many or most European women before at least the 19th century bled into their clothing. Read my argument.

And read the New York Times article about the situation in India and what people are trying to do about it, including the Great Wash Yatra and WASH United.

See the first page, below. The language is Hindi, and you'll find the same language on some material for the washable pad project in Rajasthan.

second page, third page

Long download!


Map: The arrow points to Almora, India, where this project occurred. Read about the washable pad project in the state to the left, Rajasthan.

I [Dr. Margaret Greene, of the Center for Health and Gender Equity in Takoma Park, Maryland, U.S.A.] promised to send you a little more information about the wood ash sanitary napkin project in Almora, Uttar Pradesh state, India. There, women are completely restricted in their movements during their periods.

They have to stay in the cow shed without changing their clothes for an entire week. [See similar secluded areas in old Hawaii and a note about menstrual seclusion in Suriname. Probably most rural women and those of the lower classes in Europe also bled into their (under)clothing before around 1900, not using pads, tampons, etc. Read something about this.]

Part of the work of the NGO "Sahayog" has been to make women realize that the blood doesn't come out of their bodies inherently polluted or smelling. They ask women, What does a piece of meat smell like after it has been sitting in the sun for a week?

Then they encourage them to make these sanitary pads that are essentially sifted wood ash wrapped in a cloth. Wood ash is readily available, absorbs odors, and can easily be thrown out into the woods or fields when the pad has been used.

Slowly these women are gaining some control over their mobility through the ability to conceal when exactly they are menstruating. [Read this same objective in much of Western advertising.]

That way, if a special fair takes place during their period, for example, they can start their seclusion a little earlier and be able to go to the fair in the last days, wearing a sanitary napkin. It isn't easy at all to make women feel freer because are closely supervised by their mothers-in-law, but Sahayog has made a start.

Their contact information is:

Dr. Abhijit Das and Jashodhara Das Gupta
Prem Kuti, Pokherkhali
Almora 263 601 UP

Warm regards,

Margaret E. Greene, Ph.D.
Center for Health and Gender Equity
6930 Carroll Avenue, Suite 910
Takoma Park, MD 20912 USA
Tel: 301-270-1182

Second page, Third page

In 1994 someone wrote this museum, saying that many women in India cannot use disposable pads because their mothers and mothers-in-law would not allow this departure from tradition. The writer, an American woman at a university in New York, then developed and planned to sell in India underpants designed to hold and conceal disposable pads.

© 1999, 2002 Harry Finley. It is illegal to reproduce or distribute any of the work on this Web site in any manner or medium
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