Meet Arunachalam Muruganantham, an award-winning social entrepreneur from Coimbatore, India, better known as the nation’s ‘Menstruation Man’. Deeply disturbed by the unhygienic menstruation practices among women in rural India, Muruganantham took it upon himself to find a solution to the problem. After several years of hard work, he invented a machine that women can use to produce their own sanitary napkins, at less than a third of the cost of commercial ones.
Born in 1962 to handloom weavers in Coimbatore, Muruganantham was forced to drop out of school at age 14 to provide for his family after his father’s death. For years he lived in poverty, working a number of jobs – machine tool operator, farm laborer, welder, and sales agent – just to make ends meet. But things were about to change soon after his marriage to a woman named Shanthi, in 1998. He discovered that his wife used filthy rags during her menstrual cycle because they couldn’t afford to buy sanitary pads, and this troubled him greatly.