The Kerala government has taken an ambitious step in the sphere of menstrual hygiene. The state will provide free sanitary napkins to all girls in government schools, studying in classes 6 to 12. The scheme is called ‘She Pad’ and it aims to reach 300 schools in 114 panchayats this year. In a Mirror Now report, the chief minister of the state Pinarayi Vijayan was quoted saying that free sanitary napkins, storage spaces and environment-friendly incinerators at all government-aided schools in the state are envisaged as part of the project.
Women’s Development Corporation in collaboration with the local self-government will be implementing it this year in 300 schools which will be expanded to all schools in the state in the coming years.
There are many positive points in this scheme. Reaching rural areas is a major challenge even for basic health infrastructures like a district hospital and personnel. One can only imagine how hard it would be to reach adolescent girls in rural areas, to educate them regarding something like menstrual hygiene. Even in the urban areas, menstruation is a taboo, so naturally talking about this is problematic in smaller towns and villages. Menstrual health is a very ignored subject in India and that has led to deteriorating status of women’s health in the country. Almost 50% of the girls in India have no knowledge about menstruation and what the lack of hygiene, in this case, can lead to.
The reason why this scheme has the potential to succeed is that the channel of communication is right. A very effective way of reaching girls in the age group of 11-17 would be through the government aided schools in village areas. It makes more sense in a state like Kerala where the enrollment rate in schools is really high. The message would go straight to the target audience. Other state governments should take inspiration from a scheme like this, since it will, in turn, affect their school enrollment rates as well.
CM Vijayan also said, “Menstrual hygiene is every girl’s right. The scope of the scheme is not limited to the distribution of sanitary napkins. ‘She Pad’ scheme aims to raise awareness about the need for menstrual hygiene. It also strives to break the taboo around the subject by helping girls to break free from the beliefs of impurity attached to it.”
Deconstruction of a taboo can only result from the conversation around it. Girls should know about their bodily processes and be able to take better care of themselves and make decisions for their own health.
Thank you for reading the story until the very end. We appreciate the time you have given us. In addition, your thoughts and inputs will genuinely make a difference to us. Please do drop in a line and help us do better.
The CSR Journal Team