Religious Taboo Put To An End With Launch of ‘She Pad’ Vending Machines In Kerala Schools

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Buying or talking about Sanitary napkins is no less considered as a taboo. There are still people who frown upon girls or makes them live separately as untouchables when they have their periods. Some buy the sanitary pads from chemists in hushed tones and wrapped in newspaper or brown paper bags hiding them from sight. Others are still subjected to using cloth or some crude materials at home which are really unhygienic.

Thus, it is a big step forward for India when Kerala’s chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan announced the ‘She Pad’ scheme on Thursday which makes it mandatory for all schools across Kerala to have sanitary napkin vending machines for the girls. This scheme is started to ensure ‘menstrual hygiene’ amongst girls.

In a Facebook post, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, “Every woman has a right to menstrual hygiene. The government’s ‘She Pad’ scheme is aimed to distribute healthy and clean sanitary pads to all school students across the state. An eco-friendly disposal system and distilleries for used pads will be distributed as part of the scheme. An estimated Rs 30 crore will be spent on this scheme in the next years. The project is being implemented with the support of local self-government institutions under the leadership of the State Women Development Corporation.”

The scheme will be launched in the month of June.The Minister had said that the project will be implemented through Kerala State Women Development Corporation (KSWDC) which will distribute sanitary napkins, cupboards, and incinerators to treat the pads in government higher secondary schools across the state.

“With the state government order in Jan last year, now 18 panchayats have transferred a total amount of Rs 1.36 crore till date for the She-Pad project. It is planned for launch next month. Subsidized high quality sanitary napkins will be distributed to the 16 lakh adolescent girls of 7,000 schools across 14 districts in Kerala.This scheme is based on the success of the pilot project launched in the government schools in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode in the last two years. Now, this scheme will cater to girls from 11 to 18 years in all government schools, ” KSWDC managing director VC Bindu told TOI.

Limited access to safe sanitary products and facilities is believed to be one of the reasons for constrained school attendance, high dropout rates and ill-health due to infection. Accessibility to affordable sanitary pads in the school premises will be of great blessing for every girl child in our country, KSWDC officials indicate.

Kerala happens to be the first state in India to have made sanitary napkin vending machines mandatory in all higher secondary schools. We hope the other states will take a cue from this and start with the ‘She Pad’ vending machines soon.