IIT-Delhi students and founders of Sanfe startup, Harry Sehrawat and Archit Agarwal, tell us how they are working to improve women’s health and hygiene
There is a lot of talk about menstruation and menstrual hygiene nowadays. And with changing times, men and boys are joining the conversation too. Films and documentaries are also being made to spread greater awareness. Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar played Menstrual Man Arunachalam Muruganantham in the 2018 movie Padman. Then again, Period. End of Sentence, a film on menstruation set in rural India, won the Oscar in the Documentary Short Subject category this year.
Several innovative products are being launched in the country as well. Recently, two students from Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, Harry Sehrawat and Archit Agarwal, came up with Sanfe Period Pain Relief Roll On. In 2018, the dynamic duo founded their startup Sanfe and launched an innovative bio-friendly pee device that allows women to urinate while standing to curb the dangers of using unhygienic public toilets. Talking to Sehrawat, we find more about how they are working towards women’s health and empowerment.
The duo started researching on the roll-on product when they found their classmate crying in pain during one of their term exams. “She was crying because she couldn’t revise for the exam because of menstrual pain and it was really upsetting to see her like that. It struck us then that she is not the only one but there are several other girls and women out there who have to suffer because of the pain,” says Sehrawat.
Many a time, women take painkillers which is not good for the body or even use hot water bags which can damage the sensitive skin. “There are a lot of balms in the market too, but what we observed was that these balms give a heating effect first and then leave a cooling effect,” says Sehrawat adding that the roll on that they have developed consists of essential oils that include eucalyptus oil, menthol and wintergreen oil, which also help cope with mood swings.
Sehrawat explains that a woman, who is suffering from period pain, just needs to apply the roll on, on the place where it hurts. “She will get immediate relief and it will be effective for up to about eight hours,” he says adding that the formula has been medically tested and approved by Food Safety and FDA.
The natural oil-based formula can be applied on cramp-affected areas like the lower abdomen, lower back and legs. “It provides a soothing action on the cramp-affected areas followed by a heating sensation which relieves menstrual cramps,” says Sehrawat.
But Sanfe is not only about business. “Sanfe stands for women and their needs,” says the youngster, who further adds that women empowerment is something that lies at the centre of all this. “Women have suffered a lot because of unhygienic conditions, and many of them don’t even speak up about their issues. We want to eliminate those conditions and give them healthy conditions to live in,” he says adding that women need to stand up for themselves, and men too should support them.
That said, menstruation is still taboo in rural areas of India, so starting a conversation at the grass-roots level is important. How long are people going to think menstruation to be a bad thing?” he asks.
Sehrawat is of the opinion that movies and social media can spread awareness of menstrual hygiene in rural areas. “We need to understand that women in villages need to be taught about menstrual hygiene because they are the ones who shy away from it,” he says.
Sanfe has a couple of other women-oriented products in the pipeline which will be out in the market soon.
The roll on can be bought via their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/sanfeindia/