Sanitary napkin vending machines will be installed in 100 government schools in the city and on the outskirts for underprivileged girls to buy them at a nominal cost.
Schools have been selected based on the number of underprivileged girls and dropouts because of menstruation.
A menstrual hygiene management programme, BeFreeBeYou, was launched in the city on Wednesday by an NGO, SEED (Society for Socio Economic and Ecological Development), in association with Dollar Industries.
Sixty per cent of adolescent girls missed school because of menstruation, 79 per cent had low self-confidence as they started menstruating, and 87 per cent used cloth as menstrual absorbent, according to the drinking water and sanitation ministry’s records shared by the organisers.
“When we visited schools and talked to girls we found that parents would send their sons for a cricket coaching camp but won’t buy sanitary napkins for their daughters, saying that they could not afford it,” Somenath Bhat- tacharyya, executive director of SEED, said. “There are girls who stop going to school when they are menstruatingOf the 100 vending machines, 14 have already been installed in schools and the rest will be fixed in the next two months. “The idea is not only to install the machines but also to speak to girls to create awareness and educate them,” Bhattacharyya said.
The NGO has been working on menstrual hygiene management with underprivileged adolescent girls and women in Bengal and Jharkhand to break taboos around menstruation and to empower women.
The vending machines have a capacity of 90 napkins. Each packet worth Rs 10 will have three napkins. “In the first phase we are giving schools the machines and three boxes, each containing 108 packets. We want schools to self-sustain by using the money they would get from students to buy more napkins,” Ankit Gupta, president of the hosiery brand Dollar, which is funding the project, said.
In several schools teachers have held workshops to educate girls on the importance of menstrual hygiene and the health hazards if they do not maintain so. “Many of the girls in our school are first generation learners and for them a sanitary napkin is more a luxury than a necessity,” Samita Bhaumik, a teacher of Victoria Institution School, said. “If we can provide them with napkins at an affordable cost, they will get used to it and hopefully, use them regularly.”.
Source: The Telegraph