Anika Parashar, an innovator, entrepreneur and mother, has been championing women’s healthcare needs for over two decades. Despite facing grave personal tragedies, she founded The Women’s Company in 2020 to cater to Indian women’s feminine hygiene needs with an Eco-friendly twist.
For most entrepreneurs, the push to turn an idea into reality stems from a rather personal space. Anika Parashar’s journey towards establishing The Woman’s Company (TWC), an eco-friendly feminine hygiene brand is no different.
Already a well-established name in the women’s wellness sector, Anika was well aware of the stigma surrounding menstruation and the lack of adequate sanitary infrastructure and support systems. “When my daughter reached puberty, I wanted her to begin this journey on a positive and safe note which urged me to explore in detail the sanitary products available in the market,” narrates Anika.
Upon in-depth research she discovered that a majority of the products available in the market are laden with chemicals. “Because of the hush culture around menstruation, we never really take a moment to know the products inside out. I wanted to give my daughter products that were safe and sustainable to use and from that humble idea, The Woman’s Company was born,” says Anika.
But underneath this motherly instinct to provide the very best for her daughter lay Anika’s desire to build a safe support system and ecosystem for all women in their menstruating years.
It was quiet poetic that TWC which is for women, by women and of the women was founded on the momentous occasion of International Women’s Day 2020. The company today creates meaningful solutions for women’s overall health and wellness. TWC offers an array of products ranging from organic sanitary napkins, biodegradable panty liners, 100% organic cotton tampons, stand & pee urination devices, medical-grade silicone cups and bamboo razors. “All our products are organic, bio-degradable and environmental friendly including the packaging,” states Anika.
Understanding the Humongous Challenge at Hand
The problem of menstrual hygiene which is being tackled by TWC runs much deeper in India.
“In India specifically, a country as diverse and unique with different sets of ethos, values, culture and traditions menstruation is still a stigma,” explains Annika.According to studies approximately 71% of adolescent girls in India are unaware of menstruation until they get it themselves. Access to menstrual hygiene products is equally tough. “Data suggests that less than 50% of rural women use sanitary pads while in urban areas the percentage is higher at around 77%,” adds Anika.
She further explains the underlying factors that impact women’s health, “Institutional biases, illiteracy, economic instability, and superstitious customs and rituals are to blame. These factors often prevent women from getting the menstrual health care and information that is paramount for their healthy development”. Anika also believes that as a country we lack an empowered and enabling environment where women can participate and get relevant information on menstruation, health and hygiene. “Unless we tackle these issues at the ground level even in the remote regions of the country, we will witness little progress in women’s wellness,” she further adds.
Incorporating Sustainability in TWC’s Products
Although access to hygiene products is a challenge for women across India, yet there exists another layer to this challenge, i.e. the environmental cost.
According to a new study titled 'Menstrual Products and their Disposal', approximately 121 million women dispose off around eight sanitary napkins per menstrual cycle, resulting in approximately 12.3 billion disposable pads adding to the landfills annually!
The massive amount of plastic waste has hazardous effects on global warming, animal health, and planet health, as well as resource depletion. TWC a conscious company thus focuseson addressing this problem and creating an impact in that area.“With the steady decline in the health of our climate, it is imperative for these products that are a necessity for women for most of their lives to be chemical-free and biodegradable. This is why sustainability is of paramount importance at TWC,” says Anika.
Innovation & Accomplishments
So far Anika has done her part in improving women’s healthcare in India and much more. For over two decades Anika has been at the forefront of the women’s healthcare sector and has worked for reputable organizations such as Fortis Healthcare, Mahindra & Mahindra, The National Childbirth Trust, BSKYB, Channel 4 and Old World Hospitality, to name a few.
She has also championed innovative brands in women's care and women’s health in India for the past 15 years including Fortis La Femme Hospitals and Mamma Mia – A Mom’s World project which is now India’s first and only comprehensive holistic health chain spanning seven locations across the nation.
An amalgamation of Anika’s innovative mindset and desire to build thoughtful products for women led her to create one of TWC’s recent launches - the Compassionate pad. “It is a specially designed pad to give you comfort during one of the most difficult times in a woman’s life - post-pregnancy loss. We know it's not an easy journey but the Compassionate Pad is made to support them in a small way to make post-pregnancy loss bleeding, less painful,” explains Anika.
Each of these pads comes in a disposable sleeve that has a unique illustration along with supportive messages aimed at women facing this traumatic phase in life. The company has also incorporated a pregnancy-loss chat bot in the product through which users can seek support and advice from experts.
Overcoming Personal Loss to Work for the Greater Good
Although Anika has accomplished a whole lot in the professional context, yet her personal battles have been the true testament to her unwavering spirit as an individual. She explains in her own words, “Death. Disease and Divorce. My life has been riddled with these losses but my upbringing gave me the strength to overcome these and work towards being my person. If there is anything I have learnt over the past few years of my life, it is that there is very little one can, in fact, control. I found my strength in the countless other stories of single women working towards building an ecosystem for their children.”
Having faced grave personal tragedy, Anika took time to reevaluate her choices, conserve her energy and came back stronger. “My personal life was turbulent and the loss of my mother was perhaps one of the biggest setbacks of my life but I have learned to help others through my experiences,” Anika says.
She further adds, “My career milestones are attributed to my personal experiences. I have come to believe in a power greater than us and manifesting the best for ourselves and our loved ones.Now I focus on ‘today’. I look towards the future with hope and optimism, confidence and positivity.”
Anika’s words of Advice:Remember that you are not alone. At different phases of your life, you may have to storm loss - loss of trust, control, and faith but remember to choose yourself every day. Strive to work towards building a life that you envisioned for yourself.