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Social Change class


This assignment is for my P. AD – Social Change class. Below is the assignment.

I’m fine if the writer chose the innovation that he/she wants to write about.

Based on the ideas of innovation & invention, research an innovation that you feel has had a major
impact on either American culture, the culture of another country, or the global culture as a whole.
BE CREATIVE! It is not fun to read 30 papers about the cell phone, Facebook, or iTunes. Think outside
the box!

  1. Give a brief history about how the innovation came about- who discovered it, how did they discover it,
    what does it do …… pretend no matter what you innovation is that I have never heard of it.
  2. Describe the impact this innovation has had on the culture you chose. Has it made society better or
    worse? Were there unintended consequences that could not have been foreseen at the time of

Sanitary napkin making machine transforming women’s lives in India


When Arunachalam Muruganantham decided to dedicate his life to solving womens’ menstrual
problems, members of his community despised him for undertaking a ‘dirty’ endeavor and his
wife almost left him. His determination however saw Muruganantham recognized as one of the
100 most influential personalities in the world by TIME magazine in 2014 for the invention of an
affordable sanitary napkins manufacturing machine; which has transformed the lives of
numerous women in India.


The journey to this invention began when Muruganantham realized that his wife often had to
sacrifice her need for sanitary towels in order to save enough for the family’s food (Bachai,
2014). Upon further research, Muruganantham discovered that sanitary towels were indeed
expensive, yet the cost was equal to 40 times the cost of raw materials produced (Bachai, 2014).
It is following this discovery that he decided to build a machine that would help women in India
access affordable sanitary napkins.

Muruganantham tested the absorbency of his first napkins which were made of cotton on himself
by placing a goat’s blood in a football bladder in his pants. This earned him alienation from
family and friends who thought he was either a pervert or bewitched and his wife, even though
they later re-united, filed for a divorce. The napkins did not work and he had to do further
research and with the help of a professor contacted manufacturing companies who gave him a
sample material consisting of cellulose from tree bark (Bazelon, 2014).

Muruganantham then proceeded to invent the low-cost machine; a process that took him four and
a half years. This machine, which is capable of producing 120 units per hour, is a grinder-type in

which cellulose fluid is broken down into a soft material resembling cotton; which is then
converted to rectangular compact pieces with the aid of another machine (Bachai, 2014). A non-
woven cloth is then used to wrap the pieces to make the sanitary napkins, which are then
disinfected using ultraviolet treatment.

Impact of innovation

This innovation has had a significant in the culture of women in India and has definitely made
the society a better place. It has transformed the life of women by normalizing menstrual days as
opposed to when they would be grounded because of lack of proper sanitary wear. In addition,
the machine has provided employment opportunities for women, thus increasing the number of
women in India’s workforce.

Women in India including school going children would have to stay at home because of the
unreliable methods of protection used including the use of sand, ash and rags which were also
unhygienic. A 2011 study by BBC had established that only 12% of women in India used
sanitary pads due to costs and this innovation is therefore very welcome in the region (Bazelon,
2014). Many girls according to Muruganantham would drop out of school once they reached
puberty due to lack of reliable sanitary solutions. The introduction of the machine has made
menstrual days easier for women and created consistency in school attendance among girls. This
can be said to have improved gender equity in schools and the community by preventing women
from being disrupted from their normal lives during their menstrual days; and thus becoming
more useful members of the society. To a great extent, women are now more empowered in the
Indian society as girls will get an opportunity to learn, get employed and thus empower
themselves (Bachai, 2014).

The machines have provided financial empowerment to women in the Indian society, elevating
them to independence in a culturally male dominated region. Muruganantham has given over
12,500 women a means of employment, having made over 1300 machines, distributed in 23 out
of 29 states in India (Bazelon, 2014; Bachai, 2014). Muruganantham’s intention is to ensure all
women in India have access to hygienic sanitary napkins and that employment opportunities for
over one million women are created (The Times of India, 2014). These machines are a
breakthrough for women in India who have had to endure an inferior role in the society where
women were not accorded the desired respect.

According to Neilsen and Waldrop (2014), women in India still face discrimination and their
place in the society still remains that of subversive beings. As a result, women have to endure
poverty as their male counterparts are favored with the little that is available; leaving them
destitute and helpless. With the invention of the machine however, women can now earn a living,
invest and overcome poverty. It also means that they are able to provide better livelihoods for
their families; including being in a position to pay school fees for their children (Bachai, 2014).
This has empowered women and accorded them the respect they deserve in the community. This
invention is thereby helping India in overcoming the discriminatory culture and making women’s
lives so much better.

At the moment, the impact of the innovation can be considered positive and unintended
consequences are negligible if any. This innovation has made the society better and replication of
the same in other developing countries is highly recommended.


Bachai, S. (2014). Man Who Got His Period Develops Low-Cost Sanitary Napkins, Voted A

TIME Influential Person.

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