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Millennium Post

Much-needed innovation

Much-needed innovation

At a time when the nation is deeply engrossed in the tussle between the Kerala government and BJP-Congress cadres over Sabarimala, a new product launched by some students at Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT-D) promises to take away some of the burdens of being a woman. Launched on World Toilet Day on Monday, the new product, Sanfe (Sanitation for female), is billed as a product that can revolutionise the way women have to deal with personal hygiene issues. Priced at Rs 10 a piece, this single-use product allows women to stand and pee — without a need to crouch or squat and thereby, avoid getting too close to public toilet seats which are often too unhygienic. "Lack of hygiene in public washrooms exposes one out of every two women to Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). Concerned by this, we innovated this female stand-and-pee device so that they can maintain a safe distance from the toilet seats and protect themselves from the possibility of getting infected," Archit Agarwal, a BTech student and the co-founder of Sanfe, said. As per the Sanfe website, 62 per cent pregnant women find semi-squatting to urinate immensely painful; 50 per cent women suffer from UTI at least once in their lifetime; 48 per cent find holding urine difficult. The developers, who have got the product tried and tested at AIIMS, assure that Sanfe is menstrual-friendly. At a time when more and more women are venturing out of their homes and seeking to increase their social interface, it's high time to eradicate the stigma and taboos associated with being a woman. Public toilets for women is a very recent phenomenon and their availability is still few and far between. For men, peeing has never been an issue as they never seem to care where they pee — whether it is a public toilet or a tree, the latter being more preferable! Despite the exalted position that women have in any civilisation as mother, sister, wife, or daughter, we do not seem to give enough thoughts to their well-being, their special needs, their education, their career, and their spiritual quest while we seem to expect everything from them from household chores to be done to love and care. The Sanfe founders deserve unqualified credit for the simple fact that they recognised an area for their research and innovation which has a great business potential and at the same time has a great social relevance. The launch of the pee device for women comes with #StandUpForYourself campaign under which one lakh free samples of Sanfe will be distributed to women across the country. "Sanfe will also liberate females from the constant burden of withholding their need to pee. The product will be ideal for pregnant women, women with arthritis, differently abled, to be used at public toilets at railway stations, trains and bus terminals," Agarwal adds. Sanfe has been ergonomically designed, water-resistant and biodegradable. "It has a flexible design and needs only a single hand to use, which is extremely useful in case of women wearing traditional Indian attire. The flaps in the onetime use product are gentle on the skin to ensure that no scratch or itch takes place," Agarwal adds. What is great about this product is that it can be used even more easily than a sanitary napkin. The Sanfe website describes the process in four simple steps -- open, place, pee, throw -- with some help from easy to understand drawings. According to the Sanfe website, the project has been aided by the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Biotechnology, Earth Foundation, Apollo Cradle for Women and Children, Apollo Pharmacy, New Delhi Children's Hospital & Research Centre, Lakshya Jeevan Jagriti Women Education, Bhagat Global, CAYA Dream to Deliver, BIRAC Ignite Innovate Incubate, FITT, Sulabh among others. The large number of institutional support to the Sanfe R&D team clearly establishes the fact that if suitably qualified people undertake a project that has the potential to make a difference in ordinary people's lives and if it has the scope for scaling up into the big league of successful products, there is no dearth of High Networth Individuals (HNI) and institutions of repute who would support such endeavours. Sanfe promises a revolution of the kind that contraceptive pills once brought about around the world by taking away the burden of unwanted pregnancy. At a time when women around the world are running the governments as head of the states and ministers, driving scientific researches, and flying aeroplanes, they certainly deserve a product like Sanfe. Kudos to IIT-D for the great culture of research and innovation that it has fostered since its inception.

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