Sanitary Pads With A Difference How Project Baala Is Empowering Rural Women

New Delhi: 2.8 lakh girls who study in government colleges are likely to benefit from Rajasthan’s new menstrual hygiene campaign, where sanitary pads will be distributed free of cost in 189 government colleges in the state. The department of higher education has decided to install sanitary napkin vending machines in all the colleges from the next academic session starting July 2019 with the aim to propagate menstrual hygiene practices and use of pads during periods among students and women who cannot afford to buy sanitary pads.

In February, delivering the state budget speech, the then Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje announced that the government has allotted an amount of Rs. 76 crore for the scheme and said that the sanitary pads will be distributed to all women between age groups 15 and 45, across schools, colleges, health centers and Anganwadis. During the speech, Ms Raje said,

Many schools and health centers in rural areas do not have sanitary napkin vending machines. Due to unavailability of sanitary pads, many girls are forced to drop out of school early, resulting in incomplete education. With this scheme, women can easily avail sanitary napkins and ensure menstrual hygiene.

Also Read: From The Movie PadMan To Sanitary Pads Being Exempted From GST, 2018 Saw Menstrual Hygiene Come Out Of The Closet

Now, as the world welcomes 2019, Rajasthan is all set to make this new scheme a reality. Sharing the news with the netizens about the launch of the new menstrual hygiene scheme, Dr Shama Mohamed, Congress Spokesperson, said,

Rajasthan to become India’s first state to provide free sanitary napkins to college students. This initiative by the @INCIndia govt will benefit girl students enormously and reduce drop-out rates. What an encouraging start to the #NewYear2019

Along with these steps, the Rajasthan government has also launched ‘Chuppi Todo’ (break the silence) campaign in July 31 with a goal to encourage women in rural areas to adopt menstrual hygiene practices and handle their periods with dignity and safety. The state is also observing ‘Chuppi Todo’ Diwas every three months throughout the state, wherein several activities across rural areas are held in order to encourage and motivate women to talk about menstrual hygiene in public.

Speaking to NDTV, Roli Singh, who was earlier serving as Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Rajasthan said,

These steps are necessary because till date there are many women and girls who don’t know about their menstruation process. Many are unaware simply because they can’t afford the costly sanitary pads, while some don’t know because no one at their place have ever talked about menstruation. So, it becomes our responsibility to help break such silence in the state.

Ms Singh also added to make the menstrual hygiene campaign successful in the state we have collaborated with many self-help groups, NGOs and other ministries. The Ministry is also gearing up to partner with educational institutes for research and development of low-cost sanitary pads so that necessity becomes affordable and not treated as a luxury item.

Also Read: From Sanitation Coverage Of Less Than 30 Per Cent In 2014 To Going Open Defecation Free In 2018, Here’s Rural Rajasthan’s Swachh Turnaround Story

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