The Pune Municipal Corporation approved a budget of one crore for distribution of free sanitary napkin among the girls studying in PMC schools.
A recent study suggested that 65% of women in the city found sanitary napkins unaffordable. Consequently, several girls in the city skip schools for at least four days a month, because they cannot afford sanitary napkins and want to avoid embarrassment.
The initative is to make menstrual hygiene affordable and a basic human right. While free sanitary napkins in public schools is more than welcome, it has raised a few fundamental questions among the students and teachers alike…
There is no mention of whether this initiative will ensure that napkins will be provided for the entire cycle or just when needed dispensed at schools.
Pune365 hit the streets and visited several municipal schools to speak to teachers and students on this initiative and gauge their reaction…
A school teacher who wishes to remain anonymous says, “Menstrual hygiene is every girl’s basic right. Our schools provides sanitary napkins when needed, yet, many girls remain absent during their periods. This is understandable since it is not easy managing this during schools with cloth.”
I really hope that the distribution of sanitary napkins in schools will help our girls enjoy good physical and mental health, she adds.
We do provide it when its needed,’ says Madhuri, school teacher. We teachers are helpless! We certainly want to help our girls, but it is impossible to help each and every girl in the school. The government has provided sanitary napkin vending machine in some schools, but they have never bothered to check even once after installation on the stock in the machine.
The government should provide atleast 10 sanitary napkins to every girl which are enough to last for a month, adds Madhuri.
They supply it for one or two months and after that they send us home,” says Shweta Joshi student.
I remember getting my periods in school twice or thrice. Eventually, they said that if you know your cycle ‘why don’t you keep your cloth handy?
Napkins are easy to carry, but we can’t afford it. I am glad that the government has implemented such schemes, though I doubt if they will reach us”, she adds.
“I miss my school for at least two days whenever I get my periods. This is not only because of the sanitary napkins issue, but also thanks to the horrible state of the girls washroom.” says Trupti, student.
“Many a times we have been forced to use discarded cloth dumped in the washroom. We prefer to stay home, rather then getting infected. Our school has never provided us with a sanitary napkin unless it is an emergency. Even then, it is charged or you are expected to return one napkin to the school,” she adds.
It doesn’t cost much but my father can’t afford it, hence my mother told me to use a cloth says Sana Khan, student.
Buying sanitary napkins adds to the financial burden for my family. If the government can provide contraceptives for free, they should also provide free napkins. Our school has a vending machine for pads that never has any pads. We are fortunate that some teachers are supportive and provide pads in case of emergency.
If the Government really wants to help us, then they should provide pads which are adequate for one entire cycle, every month. This should also be done on a continuous basis
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