Meet the real-life ‘Padman’ from rural Rajasthan

As a tribute to his late mother, this medical student is on a mission to spread awareness on women’s hygiene, reports Rajesh Asnani.

Published: 08th August 2021 10:05 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th August 2021 10:05 AM   |  A+A-

Mahendra Rathore distributes free sanirary napkins among villagers.

Mahendra Rathore distributes free sanirary napkins among villagers.

RAJASTHAN:  Akshay Kumar was the reel-life ‘Padman’ in the 2018 flick that sent out the message of menstrual cleanliness. And Mahendra Rathore of Harsaur town is the real-life ‘Padman’ in Rajasthan’s Nagaur district. He works on women’s hygiene issues and distributes free sanitary napkins in the district. Rathore (23) began his mission as a tribute to his mother who was a social worker. She died in a road accident three years ago.

Mahendra is a final year student at the Karaganda Medical University in Kazakhstan. The Covid-induced lockdown has forced him to study online and he is living in his hometown in Nagaur for the past 18 months. Since his return, Mahendra has been working on menstrual problems and is known as the ‘Padman of Nagaur’.

A resident of Harsaur town about 120 km from the Nagaur district headquarters, he has been distributing sanitary napkins for which he travels on his bicycle every day. Apart from spreading awareness, Rathore also tries to persuade women on the need for cleanliness during their menstrual cycle. He wants to bring about a change in our attitude towards women, for which his mother worked for years. “My mother took care of women’s health. My father ran a medical store. My mother not only advised women correct medicines but also counseled them in our area. When she died, I felt I should do something for our women. I was familiar with their problems.”

The pandemic has tested him: Rathore has offered medicines and food to the needy and got in touch with a friend who ran an NGO ‘Owaart’ in Delhi. The NGO was working on a project ‘one village at a time’. Mahendra had also started an NGO, ‘Mother’s Hand’ through which he created awareness on menstrual hygiene. Through local donations, he had already distributed free sanitary napkins in nearby Luniyawas villages.

To generate funds, Rathore travelled to Ajmer and Jaipur and spoke to potential sponsors. He did not ask for cash, but free napkins from his sponsors. He also motivated his friends to help him. The big problem was how to communicate with rural women and motivate them to not only discuss but also utilise the free sanitary napkins.

He remembers that when he went to Luniyawas village to distribute napkins for the first time, women looked at him suspiciously and were uncomfortable talking on the subject with a male. “They thought I was talking about ‘peid’ (or trees),” he says.  “Around 300 women were ready to listen. But when they realised what I was talking about, half of them left,” says Rathore.

Mahendra then chose girl students and local women to reach out to the rural women. He started packing sanitary napkins in black covers. So far, Rathore has been able to distribute over 15,000 free sanitary napkins in 18 months.


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp