This Engineering graduate on a menstrual cycle mission
Karimnagar-based Vishwaja contributes towards menstrual hygiene by designing vending machines and incinerators
The 22-year-old, Vishwaja Reddy is the brain behind sanitary vending and pad disposable machines that are installed at JNTU, Jagatial College.
Breaking the taboo around discussing sanitary napkin, she talks about how the importance of mentrual hygeine during the five days inspired her to design vending machines to help girls like her.
Tell us about yourself
I have completed my mechanical engineering from JNTU and I am currently pursuing my MBA from Hyderabad Central University.
How did you get the idea of creating a vending machine?
When I was pursuing my graduation, I got my period when I was in the lab in middle of my external exam. I couldn't come out of the exam, which created a difficult situation for me.
And when I finally got to the washroom, I had to stay there for more than half an hour until I somehow managed to get a sanitary napkin from my junior, before being able to continue my exam. This made me think that something must be done to avoid such situation.
We carry napkins in our bags but then we are not sure if we can carry them everywhere. So, being a mechanical engineer I wanted to design a vending machine and I did it with the help of a cardboard and demonstrated it to my principal.
But since I was a student he said this idea was okay and we should contact some manufacturing company for the machines.
How did you manage to complete the machine work?
I collaborated with a manufacturing company and I told them the idea; they are a fabrication company. Both manual and automatic machines were made.
We also came up with incinerators, which help in disposing sanitary napkins. It took me one month to work with them.
What were the challenges that you had to face?
I had to face lot of rejections; I was also told by college authorities that they would be buying them online, instead.
Nobody believed in my initiative and as I was a student they did not come forward to look at what I have done; they called it a project work and it cannot be used as a machine in the college for daily use.
How did you get recognised for your work?
When I installed around 13 machines in JNTU, my principal called me on stage to inform everyone that I was the brain behind the machines. Everyone was shocked and were also happy that I had done these for all the girls in the college.
What made me even happier is that the lady who cleans the washroom hugged me and said that you have made my work a bit easy, because I used to feel uncomfortable when I had to flush off the sanitary napkins using my hand. The incinerators helped her a lot.
Menstrual hygiene is no more a taboo, so what message can you give girls?
Nowadays people are openly buying condoms, but then when it comes to sanitary napkins no one is ready to buy them until it is wrapped in a newspaper which is a fact.
Many of them are still ashamed to talk about this issue, which is not a good thing. I believe that these vending machines and incinerators should be placed in every place to make a woman more comfortable during the menstrual cycle.
Do you plan to install it in rural areas?
Yes I and a group of volunteers would love to do this work in the rural areas. But before that we would also conduct sessions where girls are informed about the hygiene issues that are connected to the menstrual cycle.
We want to educate people, but being a student it is difficult for me to manage my academics and social issues. It will be helpful if the government supports me in this work to help girls in the rural areas. a menstrual cycle mission