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‘She Pad’ scheme: Kerala to provide sanitary napkins for schoolgirls

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The much thought out scheme to ensure ‘menstrual hygiene’ among girls, the `She Pad’ scheme for school students across Kerala was announced by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday. The scheme intends to provide sanitary napkins for girl students in all government schools and the government has announced Rs 30 crore for the project.

The scheme will be launched next month. Last year, Social Justice Minister KK Shailaja had announced the plan to launch a ‘She Pad’ project in higher secondary schools of the state, while speaking about the plan to set up Nirbhaya shelter homes in all districts. 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.

In January 2016, the state government had issued an order that a part of the funds for sanitary pads will be from the Local Self Government Institutions (LSGIs) and KSWDC in 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,” KSWDC managing director VC Bindu.

“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, she said.

“Menstrual hygiene is one of the major problems faced by girls and women in Kerala because very often it is veiled in secrecy and negativity associated with cultural and religious taboos. It is also neglected due to lack of awareness on menstrual preparedness and management among adolescent girls.

A study conducted by A C Nielsen ‘Sanitary Protection: Every woman’s health right’, and reviewed and endorsed by the community development organisation Plan India, reveals that only 12% of India’s 355 million menstruating women use sanitary napkins. Around 23% of adolescent girls in the age-group 12 to 18 years drop out of school after they begin menstruating because of inadequate menstrual protection like sanitary napkins and those who are in school absent themselves for an average of five days a month.
 Limited access to safe and affordable 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.

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Just like an iris controls the light levels inside the eye making it possible for us to see the outside world, The Indian Iris aims at shedding light on the ongoing political affairs, policies and schemes of the Government of India (GOI) and those of the State Governments.

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