The scheme called Asmita Yojana would provide a packet of sanitary napkins to girls attending the government-run zilla parishad schools in rural parts for Rs5 each. Pankaja Munde, Maharashtra minister for women and child development, told reporters that the arrangement would be implemented through women’s self-help groups.
At a meeting in January, the state cabinet approved the scheme that would cost the state exchequer Rs3 crore approximately, as per a department of women and child development official.
Munde said apart from the sale of subsidized sanitary napkins to girls in the age group of 11 to 19 years at government schools, rural women will be provided two types of packets for Rs24 and Rs29 each. She says the scheme was intended to generate awareness about hygiene among rural women.
“Hygiene is not only about building toilets. It should also look at generating awareness among rural women about their health and physical well-being," she says. "Studies have found out that only 17% of rural women in Maharashtra use sanitary napkins. The scheme aims at improving this percentage."
She also pointed out that several studies carried out by the government departments as well as independent agencies had revealed that girls tend to miss schools during their periods due to lack of sanitary napkins.
“There is a significant drop in attendance at government schools and the reason being cited is lack of proper sanitary napkins and awareness about using them. This proves hygiene is important for education as well,” Munde says.