When she heard about Auroville from a friend, Kathy Walkling was intrigued and decided that she had to see it for herself. The then occupational therapist in Australia, moved to Pondicherry in 1997 with no idea of what she would do here. “I was open to doing anything,” she begins. Walkling worked in administration and education before spend-ing time at a small village where her interest in women’s development grew. In 2009, she co-founded Eco Femme, a women’s empowerment project that promotes healthy and eco positive menstrual practices among rural women. “It started with an idea and research. We interviewed 300 women and girls,” says Walkling, who has trained 15 women and has been producing cloth (brushed flannel cotton) sanitary pads for a little over a year now. However, Walkling has been making cloth pads herself for almost 12 years, and they are taken across the globe by women from various walks of life, who buy them from Auroville. “Women like using them because they save money in the long run and are also colourful when compared to the clini-cal looking disposable pads,” she shares.
Though she has not been able to do much work in the field because of the communi-cation gap, Walkling says that rural women face “a complex set of conditions that are rooted in lack of exposure, education, etc. Their roots govern their life.” Eco Femme hopes to empower these women through social enterprise and employment. Currently working on a number of fronts, she plans to start campaigning and promoting their endeavour soon. “We’d like to build a network of ambassadors and spread the message of sustainability,” says Walkling, who has a teamof 11 with her and believes that Auroville is a special place in India. “It remains green, while other places are going the opposite way,” she concludes.
The pads are priced from Rs 65 (wholesale) onwards. Details: http://ecofemme.org, shycart.com