Menstrual Hygiene: Government’s Suvidha Sanitary Napkins See Zero Sales In Tripura, Manipur And Goa in 2019Access to menstrual hygiene products is the fundamental right of every woman, says Dr. Shashi Tharoor

New Delhi: Experts lauded the government’s decision to launch ‘Suvidha’, the 100 per cent biodegradable sanitary napkin, under the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) on the occasion of Women’s Day (2018). Suvidha sanitary napkins are sold at an affordable price of Rs. 2.50 per pad, at over 3200 ‘Janaushadhi Kendras’ across India to ‘ensure ‘Swachhta, Swasthya and Suvidha’ (cleanliness, health and convenience) for the underprivileged women of India,’ the statement from Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers reads. However, more than a year later, Member of Parliament Dr. Shashi Tharoor has sought a response on the status of the scheme nationwide, during the ongoing Lok Sabha session.

Dr. Tharoor further took to Twitter to share his questions and the response he received from the Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers, D. V. Sadananda Gowda. He tweeted,

My question in the LS on the “Suvidha Sanitary Napkins” scheme of the government, & the Minister’s reply

Also Read: Menstrual Hygiene Day Facts: Only 36 Percent Of The Women In India Use Sanitary Pads During Periods

Dr. Tharoor asked two main questions in the statement he tweeted – the awareness activities have been undertaken by the government to inform women about the scheme and the second was to seek details on the sales of Suvidha sanitary napkins.

Mr. Gowda responded to the queries by listing the mediums used by the government to spread awareness about the scheme, as the statement reads,

Various types of advertisements such as cinema advertisements, bus brandings, State Transport Bus Stands audio advertisements, digital screen advertisements, at Railway Stations, workshops and through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter.

On the other hand, the ministry also provided the details on the sales – state-wise and year-wise, as requested by Dr. Tharoor. The response from Mr. Gowda, depicts zero sales of the sanitary napkins in states like Tripura, Manipur and Goa in addition to a mere 80 units sold in Himachal Pradesh in 2019.

Mr. Tharoor further expressed ‘shock’ on these numbers as he tweeted,

Access to menstrual hygiene products is the fundamental right of every woman. In response to my question in Parliament, I was shocked to learn that 0 Suvidha sanitary napkins have been sold in the states of Manipur, Tripura, Goa and merely 80 were sold in Himachal Pradesh

Also Read: 140 Police Stations In Mumbai To Get Sanitary Napkin Vending Machines To Empower Their Female Cops

NDTV reached out to Dr. Surbhi Singh, Founder and President of the non-profit organisation Sachhi Saheli, who blamed the low sales in these small states on the implementation of the schemes, she said,

The problem we face in our country is that these ambitious schemes are announced but their implementation remains poor. There’s no plan for implementation. Sanitary napkin cannot be bought by the women, how one buys tobacco from a kiosk on the streets. Advertisements on bus and Facebook and Twitter are of no use as we need to ensure that the person selling these napkins creates a safe space that empowers the women to go and buy, especially when it comes to rural areas. Be it their body language or their behaviour; if the seller is not properly trained to sell these, women are not going to feel empowered enough to go ahead and buy sanitary napkins from them. It is as simple as that.

Dr. Singh further explained the same with an example of their own campaign, she said,

Sachhi Saheli had organised a program called Umang in Dadar and Nagar Haveli where we included Aanganwari and Asha workers, who were trained to sell sanitary pads at a cost of Rs. 5. In addition to sales, they were also instructed to explain the common points on how it is to be used, when or how often should it be changed and other hygiene related points; while also solving their queries.

Also Read: Menstruation Matters: Social Media Celebrates Menstrual Hygiene Day With The #RedDotChallenge

“This helps ease the stress and anxiety among the first time users of menstrual hygiene products,” she said.

Dr. Singh asserted that there’s a major communication gap between the service provider (government) and the beneficiary (women). She highlighted the importance of awareness to draw the attention of the women towards menstrual hygiene.

Government needs to raise awareness about why should women use pads. Why should they stop using the cloth pieces that they may have been using for years? Unless this type of awareness is not raised, selling pads at a low or affordable cost will make no difference, as those who don’t use will still not buy. We are not able to reach that stage where every woman understands the importance of menstrual hygiene. If women don’t know how often they should change pads, they will face rashes, among other serious issues that they may not face with cloth. Therefore, the first time users need to know proper instructions on the usage, she signed off.

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollutionclean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.

1 Comment

  1. Probably they felt it will leak like Sardar Vallabai Patel’s status which was built with 3000 crores!

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