Bengaluru: Kerala’s communist government launched ‘She Pad’, a first-of-its-kind scheme in India to provide sanitary napkins for free in about 300 government schools, on Wednesday.
Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated the scheme, which will also provide napkin storage spaces and incinerators in schools, benefitting thousands of female teachers and students.
The move comes after running such arrangements in certain government schools for about two years as pilot, both by the current and the previous governments. The plan is to expand the project to all government schools across the state by next year.
Vijayan suggested the scheme is more than about just free distribution of napkins and is an attempt to normalize public debates about menstrual hygiene.
“Menstrual hygiene is every girl’s right. Government is hoping that initiatives like these will help our girls to lead a life of confidence," the CM tweeted on Tuesday night.
“She Pad scheme aims to raise awareness about the need for menstrual hygiene and break the taboo around the subject," he added. The financial cost for the project, about Rs30 crore, is provided by local panchayats and Kerala State Women’s Development Corporation.
In fact, ‘She Pad’ is the battle for last mile menstrual hygiene in Kerala. According to the latest National Family Health Survey of 2015-16, nine out of 10 young women in Kerala already use personal hygiene products.
Along with making sanitary pads easily accessible, the project will also conduct awareness camps in various schools for boys to create a healthy mindset on menstruation in the opposite sex, R.P. Khandelwal, chairman and managing director of HLL Lifecare Ltd, a partner in the initiative told The New Indian Express newspaper.