Updated: Jan 13
At RISE by Sundara, we are thrilled to introduce our second cohort of RISE Fellows. Roshani Karki Sapkota is working to improve access to menstrual hygiene products in Chitawan, Nepal. She is a positive, compassionate leader who has created changes in various communities. She plans to integrate a new project to her program portfolio “Ensuring effective Menstrual Management through Production and Distribution of reusable Sanitary pad Production". This program will have a direct impact on the health of women and will change the lives of young girls and women in rural Nepal. Continue reading below to learn more about Roshani and her social enterprise.
"Roshani, can you share with our community more about yourself? What were you doing before your entrepreneurial journey?"
Around 6 years ago, I was in the beginning of my professional career and I was helping my husband in his business. Everything changed after 25th April, 2015 when a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal which had tremendous damage in our Country. I left the job and started volunteering and supporting people in need.
With the help of my friends and family we have created a youth network and provided support in all the affected districts. We realized that after the basic needs of food and shelter, water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is the next most pressing need for a healthy life.
In 2016, we established a nonprofit organization called “Wine To Water Nepal” with an objective to support people (especially women) in rural and unserved communities with WASH facilities to help them improve their health and economic status. I have been leading this organization for the past 5 years and have supported many women and young girls to access water and sanitation facilities as well as educating and advocating for dignified menstruation.
"Can you tell us more about your work with Wine to Water Nepal?"
Due to lack of awareness and poverty, girls and women of Nepal do not manage their menstrual periods effectively. They have been a victim of societal malpractices, have to face embarrassment, and miss out school. Our product with training and awareness programs will ensure effective menstrual management and work towards minimizing social taboos.
This project will also generate direct employment opportunities for two women contributing to their financial empowerment. Ms Asha Khwas, a permanent staff member at our office, is an example of Wine to Water Nepal creating professional opportunities. She was struggling to meet the daily requirement and sending her child to school, now due to her work she is able to send her children to school and meet the daily needs. Improper menstrual hygiene can lead to reproductive and urinary tract infections for women. The use of proper sanitary pads will have a long term health impact on young girls and women.
Our training programs makes our work innovative. People in Nepal either use disposable sanitary pads or use old rags to manage their periods. The disposable sanitary pads are very expensive which are not affordable for people living with poor living standards. Thus, they are forced to use cloth rags which are very unhygienic and create many health issues. Our product with the training and awareness campaigns will educate and help them to understand the proper menstrual management ways. The one-time investment in sanitary pads will be useful for at least 4 years.
"What inspired you to dedicate your life to this work?"
Working in marginalized communities, helping people and contributing towards protecting the environment has always been my passion. In our organization we focus on WASH Sustainability. Long term behavioral change activities are incorporated within the Water and Sanitation facilities. Women and young girls are the most affected due to the lack of adequate WASH facilities. Therefore, through our WASH and Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) program, we support them with the facilities as well as livelihood training so that they can also generate income. Thus, being able to see this transformation in women’s lives inspires me every day to do this work.
"What do you hope to gain from this experience?"
Although I have previous involvement in delivering MHM training and awareness programs, this entrepreneurial journey will be a new experience for me. I am hopeful to bring tangible changes in the lives of unreached communities we are working on. This journey will help me to make a difference and create awareness regarding dignified menstruation.
This opportunity will provide me to learn, connect and network with the RISE community and help me create a safe, clean and dignified environment for women in my country.
Inspired by Roshani and want to support her work? Donate here to support her work today!