New Delhi: “Menstrual hygiene is a fundamental right for girls,” says Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan as he announces the next big step being taken by the Kerala Government that is aimed to break taboos, foster health and empower girls in the state. In a tweet, CM Vijayan said,
The State Government has decided to install sanitary napkin vending machines in all schools across Kerala, reaffirming menstrual hygiene as a fundamental right for girls. This project aims to break taboos, foster health, and empower our girls to soar with confidence.
The State Government has decided to install sanitary napkin vending machines in all schools across Kerala, reaffirming menstrual hygiene is a fundamental right for girls. This project aims to break taboos, foster health, and empower our girls to soar with confidence!
— Pinarayi Vijayan (@pinarayivijayan) May 16, 2023
This is not the only step the state has taken for menstrual hygiene. Earlier this year, in a pioneering decision, the Kerala government said it would grant menstrual leave for female students studying in all state universities coming under the Department of Higher Education. This decision was first implemented by Cochin University of Science and Technology and was followed up by other universities. Following this, a private school – Labour India Public School in Kerala too declared menstrual leave for its students.
Not just this, to address the issue of the accumulation of enormous quantities of biodegradable waste generated by sanitary napkins, Kerala government plans to kickstart a revolutionary drive at the grassroot level to promote menstrual cups among women. In the last budget, state Finance Minister KN Balagopal had earmarked Rs 10 crore just to promote use of menstrual cups, an environment-friendly, sustainable and cost-effective alternative for sanitary napkins in the state.
Finance Minister K N Balagopal, in his February 3 budget speech, had announced the same and said, “Awareness programmes and campaigns will be conducted at government level in schools, colleges and workplaces. An amount of Rs 10 crore is earmarked for this.”
This is the first time in India any state has taken any such decision. Speaking to one of the news agencies (PTI), Mr Balagopal said, “Kerala may be the first state in the country which comes up with such a massive campaign to promote sustainable alternatives for non-biodegradable sanitary napkins.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that 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 diarrhoea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.