Real life 'Padman', Arunachalam Muruganantham, who made headlines for manufacturing low-cost sanitary napkins with his innovative cellulose-based pads, has made it to Fortune magazine's list of the top 100 world's greatest leaders.
Muruganantham ranks 45 on the list, along with other world leaders like Bill and Melinda Gates, Jacinda Ardern and Robert Mueller. While the Gates made it to the top of the list owing to their charity work, Ardern received critical acclaim for her handling of the New Zealand mosque shootings.
The magazine cites that Muruganantham's work has helped thousands of women access sanitary napkins in India, thus improving personal hygiene for women living in rural areas. According to the magazine, each of Muruganantham's machines help 3000 women convert to sanitary pads. Moreover, each machine also provides employment opportunities for 10 women.
It is not just the fact that Muruganantham's efforts have helped thousands of women experience better hygiene; it is also the freedom and the liberation that comes with it. In other words, Muruganantham succeeded in giving several women, who had been living in shackles, the wings they needed to soar.
Menstruation, in India, is a taboo and still discussed only behind closed doors. According to a report published by WHO, at least 43 per cent women in India lack access to sanitary pads. One of the major reasons would be the cost factor. Sanitary pads in India are a luxury. Period. A majority of women in the country live below the poverty line; moreover, they are not financially independent and thus cannot afford sanitary napkins. Unable to use pads, most women around the country use rags or dirty clothes.
Muruganantham's journey was documented in the Akshay Kumar starrer "Padman" and in the Oscar winning documentary "Period. End of Sentence." To provide better options for such women, he devised a machine that would churn out low-cost sanitary pads made of cellulose. His machines only cost Rs. 1,37,000 and also provide jobs for several women.
By now, Muruganantham has sold over a thousand machines in over 27 states and his machines have started a revolution in other developing countries as well. In 2014, Muruganantham was named in TIME Magazine's list of 100 most influential people. This year, he makes India proud yet again by making it to Fortune magazine's list.