Mumbai: Did you know that 23 million girls in India drop out of school annually (according to a Dasra report of 2014) due to lack of proper menstrual hygiene management facilities, which include availability of sanitary pads and logical awareness of menstruation? For decades, the stigma associated with menstruation in India has been forcing girls and women, especially in rural areas, to compromise on their health. To tackle this issue, the municipal bodies are sanitary napkins to menstruating women. The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) in Gujarat is the latest civic body to do so after South Delhi Municipal Corporation, Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, etc. It will install sanitary napkin vending machines in 104 government-run schools of Vadodara for free.
On February 13, VMC commissioner Ajay Bhadoo inaugurated a sanitary pad vending machine set up at the MES High school, Nagarwada and said that such vending machines have been installed in 10 other civic-run schools in the city.
સ્વચ્છ ભારત, સુવર્ણ ભારત | Under the #SwacchBharat mission, Sanitary Pad vending machines and incinerators were installed in different schools for easy availability and disposal of the Sanitary pads for girls. #HealthyVadodaraPromise#HygienicVadodaraPromise#SmartBaroda pic.twitter.com/htn2Dzwrcw
— VMC VADODARA (@VMCVadodara) February 14, 2019
Talking to NDTV on why the VMC took the decision to installing vending machines in schools, Deputy Municipal Commissioner Pankaj Aundhiya said,
We always keep our bodies clean to prevent any kind of illness or infection. But when it comes to periods, women tend to shy away from doing so due to the century-old taboo attached with it. We want to abolish that perception and the best way to do so is target the school girls. They are young enough to be moulded and old enough to understand the gravity of the problem. 10 out of 104 schools have got the machines. The rest will get them soon.
Along with the vending machines, the civic body has also installed incinerator units to scientifically dispose of the menstrual waste. Irresponsible disposal of used sanitary napkins is a health hazard and can spread diseases. To ensure that disposal of sanitary napkins is safely done, the VMC plans to install incinerators in rest of the schools within the next few months.
Merely providing a facility is not enough, it needs to be used as well to see the difference, believes Mr Aundhiya. The officials, thus, gave the students a live demonstration on how to access a sanitary napkin from the machine and dispose it in the furnace.
Sanitary pad vending machines such as these, along with safe disposal incinerators are being installed free of cost in all girls' high schools of Vadodara city by @VMCVadodara . pic.twitter.com/Z2uYfx7ZxO
— ajay bhadoo (@AjayBhadoo) February 13, 2019
All one has to do is insert a Rs 5 coin in the vending machine and press the button that will release the sanitary pad. The reason behind the low rate of sanitary pads is to promote the use of sanitary napkins and make it a habit.
If successful, the civic body will expand the project to college and Girl’s hostels and offices as well, confirmed Mr Aundhiya.
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 pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.