From a population of 1.3 billion, at any given time, on average, India has over 355 million menstruating women and girls. Among these, over 70% say their families cannot afford regularly buying sanitary pads.
In 2012, according to a study titled Menstrual Health in India, Country Landscape Analysis, over 40% of all government schools lacked a functioning common toilet, and another 40% lacked a separate toilet for girls.
Over 88% of Indian women and girls are forced to use alternatives like old cloth, rags, hay, dry leaves, sawdust and even ash during their menstrual cycles. This exposes them to dangers like skin allergies, infections and in some cases, even cervical cancer.
Many of these women and young girls come from the lowest rungs of society, where multiple factors like financial standing, social conditioning and the stigma around periods prevent good menstrual hygiene practices.
But there is some hope. The state of Goa has decided to help such marginalised sections of women by installing sanitary pad dispensing machines at industrial estates, construction sites and government-run education institutions.
The Department of Labour & Employment which will execute the same and hopes the initiative will help improve menstrual hygiene among these women.
The move is expected to be launched in April and chief minister Manohar Parrikar is expected to make a budgetary allocation in his Budget for 2018-19, reports the Times of India.
The decision was made on Thursday at a board meeting presided by the Minister for Labour and Employment Rohan Khaunte
“Dispensing units will be set up throughout industrial estates, high schools and places where children of these workers or the workers are directly working. There will also be incineration points. This will provide a lot of sanitation and give a sense of hygiene to the people,” Khaunte told TOI.
A final decision on the implementation of the scheme is pending as the government is yet to work out if it should provide women direct financial assistance or supply of sanitary pads directly to them every month.