In a government order, the Health Department announced that 11 lakh adolescent health kits containing a zipper bag, sanitary napkins, and water bottles will be distributed among the girl students in the next six months.
It seems Bollywood movie Padman has inspired the Sarva Siksha Mission authority in Burdwan (East) to improve the Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) as part of ODF (Open Defecation Free) plus strategy and as a result, the district now is all set to introduce the first ever commercial production of sanitary napkins for school girls in Memari block.
A napkin manufacturing machine has been set up at Saonta Panchayat in Memari -2 block in Burdwan (East)a pioneering effort in the district.
“Next week we shall kickoff training of the first batch of 25 female members from the Self Help Groups (SHG) for the purpose. Four trainers from Mumbai are scheduled to arrive here for the purpose,” said Mouli Sanyal, Project Officer, SSM in Burdwan (East). She added: “The trained SHG members accordingly will give training to the other SHG members. Gradually the Kanyashree–II beneficiaries will also be accommodated in the project in phases.”
The SSM authority has already procured a ` 5.25 lakh napkin manufacturing machine, which is capable of manufacturing 1,200 napkins a day. As stated Sanyal: “Initially, we expect the newly trained women will be able to manufacture 500 napkins per day. This will help meet the need of locals and the girls at much cheaper cost and will also reciprocate a financial sustainability to the SHG members too.” In every sub-division, one such machine, according to the officials, is scheduled to be installed gradually.
The authority is trying to offer 3 to 4 napkins to the school girls at just ` 10. Besides, the SSM authority has procured sanitary napkin vending and incinerator machines for 40 schools across the district to help easy availability of napkins and quick ways for disposal of used napkins.
The officials noticed that girls were skipping classes on certain dates every month during menstruation and geared up plans to do something effective for MHM at rural patches too.
According to a systematic review on MHM in India by UNICEF in 2015, 24 percent girls remain absent from classes during menstruation days. Some Kanyashree Clubs in some other districts like Purulia, Bankura and Nadia incidentally are taught about menstrual hygiene and use of sanitary pads, those are now accessible at their schools. “During menstruation rural girls usually use clothes or other primitive methods, which are unhygienic and we want to make a full stop to this,” said Shampa Dhara, Sabhadhipati, Burdwan (East) Zilla Parishad