With a view to promoting menstrual hygiene among girls and women, the Himachal Pradesh government would soon install sanitary napkin vending machines in schools, colleges, hostels and places which girls or women visit often.

The vending machines, along with incinerators, will be set up with the help of HLL Lifecare Ltd, a public sector firm under the Health and Family Welfare ministry.

The vending machines are being set up under the ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ for fulfilling the dream of clean and healthy India and also to encourage girls and women to shun traditional practices.

“All the heads of educational institutions and Deputy Director, Education have been directed to install sanitary napkin vending machines,” Joint Director of Higher Education, Amarjeet K Sharma, said.

The school authorities are further instructed to directly contact HLL Lifecare Ltd for installation of these machines, he said.

Officials of Education department said the step is being taken to ensure easy availability of sanitary napkins and promote safe and hygienic practices among girls or women.

The move would also help in safe and environment-friendly disposal of used sanitary napkins.

“There is stigma and social taboo associated with sanitary napkins, majority of girls in rural areas feel embarrassed or are hesitant in procuring it from shops as these are mostly manned by males. This results in girls or women pursuing unsafe practices or using unhygienic methods during menstrual periods,” officials said.

Further, disposal of used napkins is also a common problem everywhere. Most of the times, napkins are flushed into drains or disposed of in dustbins, which creates other problems.

“The flushing of napkins in drains results in clogging and disposing these dustbins results in health-related problems. Though both the problems can be solved by setting up state-of-the-art Automated Sanitary Napkin Vending Machines and incinerators which would be installed in educational institutions and other places,” officials added.