SEHER: Social Empowerment through Health Education and Research

This award winning project aims to address the acute issue of 'Menstrual Hygiene and Nutrition' in India.

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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name


Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Start-Up (a pilot that has just started operating)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $1k - $10k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 1,000 - 5,000

Organization type

  • Nonprofit, NGO, or citizen sector

Secondary Focus Area

  • Rural development

Headquarters location: Country

  • India

Headquarters location: City

Mumbai, India

Location(s) of impact

India : Villages- Dahanu and Pali in Maharashtra. City- Mumbai (in the slum areas such as Kurla-West, Dharavi and Goregaon-Easr)

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Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

355 million Indian women are being crushed under the long-standing neglected issue of “Menstruation”. Only 12% of the menstruating woman can afford ‘sanitary towels’, and 23% of girls drop out of school after menarche. Cervical Cancer is 70% more common among women with unhygienic sanitary practices. Moreover women do not eat nutritious food, often they eat whatever remains in the house after the whole family has consumed the meal. They are hence malnourished, have low immunity and haemoglobin levels.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

Our holistic 3 point action plan: 1. Stage 1 focuses on sprawls in Mumbai and village in rural Maharashtra, India. Collective of women to make cloth-based biodegradable sanitary napkins. We will impart skill and knowledge. The product will be cheap. To be sold locally- public toilets, PHC’s, government hospitals and schools 2. Awareness through volunteers in sprawls, schools and colleges through our special resource material on hygienic practises and nutritious diet. Emphasis on spread of cervical cancer and reproductive track infections through unsanitary conditions during menstruation with remedy and prevention to be imparted. 3. Collaborate with the local level rural government bodies such as the village council to create a plan for addressing the lack of nutritious diets among inhabitants of that area. Creation of kitchen farms for women to grow nutritious crops and green leafy vegetables in, are one of the methods we promote.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

Our advocacy sessions have been crucial in preventing a lot of sexual and reproductive diseases in these villages. By empowering women and young girls through knowledge we have shattered the myths surrounding menstruation in India. For instance during our awareness session in a rural village Pali, we became aware that the women did not drink milk, or eat fruits and green leafy vegetables. Their diet comprised of wild forest vegetables, meat and rice. Through our intervention we have brought about a change in the way they consume food. In the process, we also addressed other issues common to rural areas such as underage pregnancy and reproductive health of these women. We taught them how to use cottoncloth as sanitary pad hygienically such that they did not suffer from infections. We distributed the SEHER Health Brochures that comprehensively details on hygienic practises and nutritious food. Through legal intervention we are addressing the lack of doctors in government hospitals here.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

Short term: 1. We have received a grant of 3000 USD from the New York based Organisation 'The Resolution Project'. We are also receiving mentorship from them for implementing our project. Long term: 1. Individual donations and gifts 2. Corporate social responsibility: As per Indian laws all corporates must donate 2% of their profits for social well being. We aim to capitalise on this in the future and seek corporate funding.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

Our social venture is unique as it creates self-reliant local industries. Once these women start to manufacture and sell pads on their own, we shall be out of the picture. Through our advocacy sessions we are directly interacting with the community and addressing their misconceptions. By collaborating with local level governmental bodies our approach is deep, decisive and long lasting. Through legal intervention we are addressing issues like bad hospital conditions, lack of doctors and medicines

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

For the past year, I've been interning with Flavia Agnes an activist in providing socio-legal support to victims of domestic and sexual abuse. It was here that I encountered the stigma surrounding discussions about our body. From State stakeholders- public prosecutors, police officers to social workers, every one was embarrassed and refused to use the medical terminologies while discussing. The situation is grave because the use of ambiguous terms while writing victim statements could jeopardise the entire legal trial. Women do not come forward in reporting or even talking about incidents of sexual abuse, because of the the societal stigma and secrecy around this issue. Our data analysis revealed that most women do not even know why menstruation happens. One can then hardly expect them to be aware of the sanitary practises and healthy lifestyle.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Upon recommendation from others


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Photo of Aisyah Ibrahim

Excellent work! Keep it up

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