Grand Challenges Canada today announced an investment of up to $7.9 million in 40 health innovations in India, supported by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada and complemented by contributions of dozens of partners, creating a total investment of up to $12.3 million.
Three of the projects will empower vulnerable, low-income women and girls in rural villages in India, and protect and preserve their human dignity, through innovative approaches to improving menstrual health.
The manufacturing and distribution of the country's first safe, 100% compostable menstrual pad will be scaled up across three states, empowering an estimated 80,000 rural women and girls with access to both menstrual hygiene products and education. Over 300 women will benefit from employment and income-generating opportunities. (Aakar Innovations – Mumbai, India – $435,000)
In the state of Jharkhand in northern India, female health workers will receive monthly training sessions on menstrual and reproductive health and will be provided with biodegradable menstrual pads to distribute locally in their villages.
The project aims to distribute 1 million biodegradable pads to rural Indian women and girls by partnering with one of India's largest education non-profit organizations. (Saathi Eco Innovations – Gujarat, India – $100,000)
Women entrepreneurs in rural villages in India will be empowered to sell affordable, quality menstrual pads through a door-to-door, subscription-based delivery service. The project aims to increase the adoption of quality menstrual pads and safe disposal practices among women and girls in rural India. (ayzh – Mumbai, India – $100,000)
Girls without access to menstrual health information and products face shame and miss school or drop out altogether because of their period, putting them at a financial and educational disadvantage compared to boys.
Other projects supported by today's announcement will provide support to women entrepreneurs, promote better nutrition for young women and mothers, and improve the sexual and reproductive health of women and girls in India. Eight of the projects are scaling up through large, "Transition to Scale" investments, having already successfully demonstrated ways to improve health.
Grand Challenges Canada applauds the Government of Canada's new Feminist International Assistance Policy, which applies a human rights approach and advances gender equality to promote equal rights for women and girls as the most effective way to reduce poverty.
Grand Challenges Canada and the Government of India's Department of Biotechnology are partners in the global family of Grand Challenges initiatives, fostering innovation to solve key health and development problems.
Said Dr. Peter A. Singer, Chief Executive Officer of Grand Challenges Canada: "We thank the Government of Canada for its commitment to supporting innovative solutions focused on vulnerable populations and empowering women and girls"
Canada's ongoing global leadership supporting women and girls in low- and middle-income countries will help drive progress toward the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal Five: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.