Andhra Pradesh to provide sanitary napkins free of cost to girl-students in government schools
The Andhra Pradesh government has launched a new scheme, `Swechcha,’ to provide branded sanitary napkins free of cost to female students at government educational institutions.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy formally launched the scheme on Tuesday with an aim to ensure affordable access to health and menstrual hygiene in adolescent girls and women.
“Still, in most parts of the country, menstruation is considered a taboo subject, and discussions about it are avoided. Poverty and harmful traditions can turn menstruation into a time of deprivation and stigma, leading to another common misconception that women and girls have diminished capacities, whether physical or emotional, due to their menstrual cycles,’’ the state government said in a release.
It was important to tackle this stigma, prioritise female personal hygiene and encourage a healthy dialogue of information, it added.
Under the scheme, 10 sanitary napkins will be given every month to about 10 lakh adolescent girls studying in the 7th-12th grades in all government schools and intermediate colleges across the state at a financial outlay of Rs 32 crores.
A total of 120 napkins per year is allotted to every female student; during the summer vacation, the students will be supplied with their quota before they leave school. The free branded sanitary products being supplied are a result of the state government entering MoUs with corporate conglomerates.
Additionally, through the MOUs signed, sanitary napkins will be sold at YSR Cheyutha retail stores at reduced prices to around one crore women residing in both the rural and urban areas. Each school will have a female educator appointed as a nodal officer to help the female students with sanitary napkins supply, safe methods of disposal, and any assistance the students may require.
A report from the United Nations Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council estimated that 23 per cent of girls in India drop out of school due to lack of menstruation products, inadequate surroundings to change sanitary napkins, lack of running water, and absence of disposal facilities.