EQUALITY INDIA NEWS / A SHAKTI VAHINI RESEARCH INITIATIVE
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has approved a new scheme for ensuring easy access to sanitary napkins as part of promotion of menstrual hygiene among adolescent girls in the age group of 10-19 years in rural areas. This scheme is aimed at ensuring that adolescent girls in rural areas have adequate knowledge and information about menstrual hygiene and the use of sanitary napkins. The girls will be provided a pack of six sanitary napkins under the National Rural Health Mission’s brand ‘Freedays’. These napkins will be sold to the adolescent girls at a cost of Rs. six for a pack of six napkins, i.e Rs. one per piece, in the village by the Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA).
In the first phase, the scheme will cover 25% of the population i.e. 1.5 crore girls in the age group of 10-19 years in 152 districts of 20 states. It is expected that with making sanitary napkins available at the village level, the usage of sanitary napkins will increase. Easy access and convenient pricing are the strategies adopted by the Ministry for increasing usage of safe and hygienic practices during menstruation. The ASHA will get an incentive of Re. one on sale of each pack, besides a free pack of sanitary napkins per month.
Evidence suggests that lack of access to menstrual hygiene (which includes sanitary napkins, toilets in schools, availability of water, privacy and safe disposal) could contribute to local infections including Reproductive Tract Infections (RTI). Studies have shown that RTIs are closely interrelated with poor menstrual hygiene and pose grave threats to women’s lives, livelihood, and education. Services for the prevention and treatment of RTI/Sexually Transmitted Infections are integral part of the Reproductive Child Health II Programme (RCH II). With specific reference to ensuring better menstrual health and hygiene for adolescent girls, Government of India is launching this scheme as part of the Adolescent Reproductive Sexual Health (ARSH) in RCH II.
- Improving Women’s Status, One Bathroom at a Time (nytimes.com)