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Women’s Day 2021: Adolescent Girls In Varanasi Slums Overcome Lack Of Sanitary Pads During COVID-19 lockdown 

Varanasi’s Diksha and Deepika risked their health to ensure every girl in their community has access to menstrual hygiene during the COVID-19 lockdown

Adolescent Girls In Varanasi Slums Overcome Lack Of Sanitary Pads During COVID-19 lockdown 
Highlights
  • Amid COVID-19, underprivileged girls faced major issues in accessing pads
  • Varanasi’s Diksha & Deepika ensured pads to girls in need through WhatsApp
  • They also manufactured their own pads and distributed door-to-door

New Delhi: The pandemic has impacted lives of adolescent girls in many ways. Situation was considerably hard, for those girls who were from the underprivileged background. The nationwide lockdown imposed to prevent COVID-19 in the country, only made lives of these girls tougher. While, maximum focus of the relief work during pandemic was on providing food and medical support, sanitary pads was one basic necessity that could get much focus.

With schools being shut, distribution of sanitary pads from schools also came to halt compelling many girls to opt unhygienic methods during menstruation.

However, there were 2 social workers from Varanasi who introduced innovative ideas through mobile apps to extend helping hands and support to hundreds of adolescent girls from underprivileged background during pandemic.

Also Read: Here’s How France, New Zealand And Scotland Are Aiming To Eliminate Period Poverty And What Can India Do

Deeksha Singh and Deepika Bhattacharya, who work in the slums of Varanasi city in collaboration with Child Rights and You (CRY)’s partner organisation – Dr Shambhunath Singh Research Foundation, became hope for many adolescent girls during their toughest times amid the pandemic.

As the underprivileged families were facing massive financial crisis during pandemic, buying sanitary pads for girls at home was the last thing to be thought about. This led to major mental stress for many girls in the slum areas where the duo worked.

Adolescent Girls In Varanasi Slums Overcome Lack Of Sanitary Pads During COVID-19 lockdown 


As the underprivileged families were facing massive financial crisis during COVID-19 pandemic, girls majorly suffered in managing their menstruation

Deeksha and Deepika not only distributed sanitary pads to the adolescent girls door to door amidst the fear of pandemic, but also worked vigorously on the adolescent health through a WhatsApp group called “Shaktipari Whatsapp Group”. The members of the group were adolescent girls from the project area where they work.

While distributing pads door to door we realised these girls were going through a lot during pandemic. Especially, when it came to menstrual hygiene, their situation was heartbreaking. It took us years to sensitise the community and make girls and women aware of using sanitary pads in periods but disruption in the supply of pads compelled these girls to use unhygienic means, Diksha told NDTV.

Also, they were facing a lot of other issues and we realised it was important to connect with them on regular basis to get to know about their issues and finding solutions for them, shared Deepika and added,

Thus, we decided to connect with as much girls as we can through WhatsApp.

Also Read: How Did A Jharkhand District End Up Growing 5,000 Trees Through An Initiative To Promote Safe Use Of Sanitary Pads?

As they were in constant touch with the adolescent girls, they realised financial crisis was a major challenge and buying sanitary pads from market cannot be an affordable option for these girls.

This compelled Diksha and Deepika to think beyond their limitation and they decided to manufacture their own version of sanitary pad, that can be recycled.

We had a few samples of such sanitary pads made of cloth in stock. These pads were provided to us by CRY a year ago and only a few samples were left. We thoroughly analysed these samples to understand how they were made and decided to manufacture our own version of recyclable pads. We collected clean cotton cloths and other things that were needed to stitch pads and distributed it door to door during lockdown. Interestingly, we received good feedback from girls regarding the pads that we made, said Diksha.

However, not every child in their project area had mobile phone and internet. To bridge this gap, Diksha and Deepika started community mobilisation and convinced those people who had smartphones in the slums to give it to the girls who want to attend online classes for an hour so that their studies are not discontinued.

Adolescent Girls In Varanasi Slums Overcome Lack Of Sanitary Pads During COVID-19 lockdown 

Diksha and Deepika went beyond their limitations and decided to manufacture their own version of sanitary pad

Despite their family being concerned about their health amid the pandemic, these 2 young women decided to reach out to those in need ignoring the risk to their own health. Thus, changing the disaster into an opportunity. The sanitary pads are now being used and even made by many adolescents’ girls by their own. Online counselling provided by them to young girls helped many adolescents to overcome psychological pressure.

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

24,06,78,961Cases
20,23,40,977Active
3,34,39,331Recovered
48,98,653Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 24,06,78,961 and 48,98,653 have died; 20,23,40,977 are active cases and 3,34,39,331 have recovered as on October 18, 2021 at 4:17 am.

India

3,40,81,315 13,596Cases
1,89,6946,152Active
3,34,39,331 19,582Recovered
4,52,290 166Deaths
In India, there are 3,40,81,315 confirmed cases including 4,52,290 deaths. The number of active cases is 1,89,694 and 3,34,39,331 have recovered as on October 18, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

65,91,697 1,715

32,230 994

64,19,678 2,680

1,39,789 29

Kerala

48,54,321 7,555

88,186 3,292

47,39,270 10,773

26,865 74

Karnataka

29,83,459 326

9,479 58

29,36,039 380

37,941 4

Tamil Nadu

26,87,092 1,218

14,814 208

26,36,379 1,411

35,899 15

Andhra Pradesh

20,60,472 432

6,034 159

20,40,131 586

14,307 5

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,028 9

119 10

16,87,011 19

22,898

West Bengal

15,80,530 624

7,421 24

15,54,132 634

18,977 14

Delhi

14,39,390 32

320 6

14,13,981 38

25,089

Odisha

10,35,077 443

4,542 68

10,22,250 508

8,285 3

Chhattisgarh

10,05,654 16

183 2

9,91,901 14

13,570

Rajasthan

9,54,390 2

42 2

9,45,394 4

8,954

Gujarat

8,26,290 10

207 6

8,15,997 16

10,086

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,684 5

84 12

7,82,077 17

10,523

Haryana

7,71,076 15

123 9

7,60,904 6

10,049

Bihar

7,26,026 5

48 4

7,16,317 1

9,661

Telangana

6,68,955 122

3,924 55

6,61,093 176

3,938 1

Assam

6,06,468 205

3,436 46

5,97,082 245

5,950 6

Punjab

6,02,035 27

227 8

5,85,264 16

16,544 3

Jharkhand

3,48,430 7

122 1

3,43,173 8

5,135

Uttarakhand

3,43,756 9

178 1

3,36,181 8

7,397

Jammu And Kashmir

3,31,062 95

843 12

3,25,793 107

4,426

Himachal Pradesh

2,21,437 131

1,303 5

2,16,414 125

3,720 1

Goa

1,77,522 60

604 6

1,73,572 62

3,346 4

Puducherry

1,27,396 52

585 13

1,24,961 64

1,850 1

Manipur

1,22,737 104

1,422 0

1,19,418 102

1,897 2

Mizoram

1,12,848 249

11,633 1,143

1,00,829 1,389

386 3

Tripura

84,321 16

104 4

83,401 12

816

Meghalaya

82,953 55

845 32

80,673 86

1,435 1

Chandigarh

65,302 3

25 3

64,457 6

820

Arunachal Pradesh

54,987 7

140 30

54,567 37

280

Sikkim

31,749 4

174 8

31,184 12

391

Nagaland

31,611 40

248 12

30,689 28

674

Ladakh

20,878 2

36 10

20,634 12

208

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,676 1

4 1

10,668

4

Lakshadweep

10,365

0 0

10,314

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,641

9 0

7,503

129

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