Menstrual hygiene is a very important aspect of a woman’s life. However, in certain parts of India, the women are deprived of menstrual hygiene because of various socio-economic reasons. High price of sanitary pads, lack of awareness about the issue are some of the reasons behind this. Lack of sanitary hygiene facilities has been a major threat to women’s health in these parts of the country and some women have faced fatal health issues because of that.
The government of India, through the CSC (Common Service Centre) has introduced an initiative named Stree Swabhiman to deal with this issue. The access to sanitary pads is not just a health issue for a woman but it is a matter of dignity too. Therefore this scheme targets to ensure that women in these areas get access to low cost but high quality sanitary pads. The Surguja district administration has done significant work under this scheme. The first sanitary napkin manufacturing unit of Surguja under the CSC was set up in Sitapur. This sanitary napkin unit employs five women. The production capacity of this unit is 2000 pads daily.
Thus the unit can produce 60,000 sanitary pads per month. The cost of production for one pad is 1 rupees ninety paise. If this pad is sold at 3 rupees per piece than the revenue generated is enough to provide livelihood to many women. The administration also has plans to set up more sanitary pad manufacturing units.
The sanitary pad unit has provided livelihood to the women associated with it. It has also ensured dignity and health for a large number of women in the district. The sanitary pad unit is serving the dual purpose of ensuring livelihood as well as women’s empowerment. The unit has made sanitary napkins available to women and girls from the economically and socially backward segments of the society.
The Stree Swabhiman project also focuses on creating awareness about menstrual hygiene among women and girls. The project has seen tremendous success in the district and is welcomed by the women. The Stree Swabhiman project has been very popular among the women because of the scope of livelihood as well as health issues. The affordable sanitary pads manufactured in the sanitary pad manufacturing units are not only affordable to the rural women in the district but are also of high quality. The mission has also helped dispel some superstitions and myths about menstruation and menstrual periods.
Apart from economic reasons, the sanitary pads are often avoided by women in rural areas owing to superstition and fear. Many women think using sanitary pads is not safe for them and instead prefer the age old methods of using clothes, cotton etc. and even reuse them. In some areas women are reported to have used various kinds of leaves too. The project has also encouraged women to use sanitary pads by removing those fears and stigmas. They are made aware of the benefits of using sanitary pads and why it is healthy to use them.