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Female Health and Hygiene Programmes - Khushi and Ujjawala Sanitary napkin initiatives

  • Category
    Society
  • Published
    10th Jan, 2019

Odisha government, as part of its initiatives to empower women, has launched ascheme (KHUSHI) to provide free sanitary napkins to girls studying in Classes 6 to 12 in government and government-aided schools, across the state.

Issue

Context:

  • Odisha government, as part of its initiatives to empower women, has launched ascheme (KHUSHI) to provide free sanitary napkins to girls studying in Classes 6 to 12 in government and government-aided schools, across the state.
  • ‘Ujjwala Sanitary Napkin’ initiative has two primary objectives to improve accessibility to basic hygiene product – sanitary pads and create employment opportunity to women.

About:

  • The idea of uplifting women through health and employability is being put into action by oil marketing companies (Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. (IOCL), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL), as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activity.
  • ‘Ujjwala Sanitary Napkin’ initiative: Oil marketing companies will set up 100 manufacturing units at the Common Service Centres (CSC) of Odisha state.
  • Each center will have the facility to produce 1,200 to 2,000 eco-friendly sanitary napkins every day. The sanitary pads will be made using virgin wood pulp sheet, non-woven white sheet and a gel sheet, all biodegradable in nature, leaving minimal carbon footprint.
  • The average price of sanitary napkins available in the market today is around Rs. 8 per pad, whereas now with the launch of the SUVIDHA napkins at Rs. 2.50 per pad, this will go a long way in making the basic hygiene requirement aid for Women affordable for the underprivileged sections.
  • A pack of eight 8 biodegradable pads will be priced at Rs. 40.

   Other initiatives of the government

  • SUVIDHA’ –100% Oxo-biodegradable Sanitary Napkin – under the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP).
  • The affordable sanitary napkin will be available for Rs. 2.50 per pad at over 3200 Janaushadhi Kendras across India and would ensure ‘Swachhta, Swasthya and Suvidha’ for the underprivileged Women of India.
  • This step has been taken by the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.
  • Women in India still use unhygienic aids during menstrual period due to non-affordability of some of the popular brands of sanitary napkins available in the market today. Such unhygienic aids cause fungal infections, Reproductive Tract Infection, Urinary Tract Infection, Cervical cancer and also make women vulnerable to infertility. Moreover, the disposal of non-biodegradable sanitary napkins available today creates a huge environmental problem.
  • Ministry of Health & Family Welfare is implementing the Scheme for Promotion of Menstrual Hygiene for Adolescent Girls residing primarily in rural areas of the country. Adolescent girls are provided sanitary napkins at subsidized rates by Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) within the community and through the platform of Government and Government aided school.
  • ASHAs also provide adolescent girls information on maintaining good menstrual hygiene, proper use of sanitary napkins and safe disposal by environmentally safe methods.
  • Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has also developed National Guidelines on Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM). This is an integral part of the Swachh Bharat Mission Guidelines.
  • Under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan, activities such as Adolescent Health Awareness Programme for Girls, provision of separate toilets blocks for girls as part of schools and installation of incinerator machine and sanitary napkin & vending machine for girls at schools and girls hostels are undertaken for general hygiene management.
  • National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has developed syllabus on health and physical education for Classes I – XII as a follow up of National Curriculum Framework, 2005, which provides adequate space to menstrual hygiene.

Background:

  • State governments have been working hard to improve living conditions of women. Apart from KHUSHI scheme, Odisha government is running two other pro-women schemes as well, namely – Mission Shakti and Mamata.
  • Mission Shakti: Women empowerment is one of the key development initiatives identified by the Government of Odisha. Under this scheme, promotion of Women's Self-Help Groups (WSHGs) has therefore been adopted as a key strategy. For upliftment of WSHGs different Schemes like Micro Credit Support, Seed Money, Financial Assistance to BLF & Drudgery Reduction have been completed.
  • Mamata: To alleviate the issue of maternal and infant under nutrition, Government of Odisha has launched a state specific scheme for pregnant women and lactating mothers called MAMATA- a conditional cash transfer maternity benefit scheme. This scheme provides monetary support to the pregnant and lactating women to enable them to seek improved nutrition and promote health seeking behavior.
  • What does National Health mission say about female health and hygiene: If girls and women have to live healthy and productive lives with dignity, menstrual hygiene must be a priority. In many areas, there is complete neglect of menstrual hygiene due to low awareness levels and lack of access to sanitary products. This programme for promotion of Menstrual Hygiene combines health education for adolescent girls, providing a regular supply of sanitary napkins and enabling other sanitation measures such as access to water and toilets in schools.
  • The reason for school dropouts has nothing to do with Sanitary Napkins or toilets. It has to do with period pain or Dysmenorrhea.

Analysis

  • According to the National Family Health Survey 2015-16, about 58 percent of women aged between 15 to 24 years use locally prepared napkins, sanitary napkins and tampons.
  • About 78 percent women in urban areas use hygienic methods of protection during menstrual period; only 48 percent women in rural areas have access to clean sanitary napkins.
  • KHUSHI scheme will go a long way in promoting health and hygiene among adolescent girls and lead to higher retention in schools.
  • We need to inculcate a system where there are no taxes imposed for sanitary pads, where sanitary pads are available for free. For instance, in Kerala, sanitary pads are given away free to students. The issue of menstruation should also be a part of the education system. Hygiene should be included in education.
  • Current national level efforts to improve sanitation do not prioritize MHM or influence relevant community norms. Disposal solutions for menstrual waste are largely unexplored . Current programming does not prioritize vulnerable populations. Priorities include strengthening facilitator capacity to deliver awareness training, improving the reach and quality of low-cost pads, and improving targeting of influencers.
  • Girls’ ability to manage their menstruation is influenced by broader gender inequities across India and can be hindered by the presence of discriminatory social norms.
  • The state of gender inequality and its impact on women and girls differs significantly across states and regions in India. Women and girls lack appropriate facilities and community support to manage their menstruation privately and in a safe manner.

Some important pointers:

  • Religious restrictions are most widespread on girls during menstruation cycle, followed by restrictions from doing household work, sleeping on the routine bed, playing, and talking to boys.
  • Several studies report sanitary pad disposal habits of women and girls in India, which include throwing sanitary pads in the open, in water bodies, or mixed with other waste.
  • Disposable pads are considered “aspirational” by girls and tend to symbolize mobility and freedom from worry.

Way forward:

  • Interventions to improve community attitudes and practices around access to sanitation as it relates to menstruation -needs to be addressed in a more targeted way.
  • There are few resources directed towards disposal of menstrual waste, which is a growing problem with the increase in use of disposable sanitary pads. Currently, incinerators are proposed as a solution but the environmental impact is unknown. Even at low penetration rates of sanitary pad usage (12%), India generates an estimated 9,000 tons of menstrual waste every year, enough to fill a landfill of 24 hectares. A long-term sustainable solution is yet to be explored.
  • There is a greater need for re-oriented focus: Although the national MHM Guidelines identify responsibilities of various ministries, there is lack of clear direction on how to operationalize convergence, i.e., coordination on the ground.

Learning Aid

Learning Aid

Practice Question:

Given India’s vast socio-cultural diversity, there is an overarching need to better understand the user and determine which intervention approach to use for girls with distinct contexts and needs. In the light of above statement, draw in convergence for KHUSHI, Ujjwala initiative and advise how to make them effective.

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