An NGO In Haryana Has Set Up Pad Banks To Help Less Fortunate Women While Also Educating Them About The Health Benefits. This Is A Great Initiative
Take a moment and think about the biggest problem you have faced during this lockdown. Personally, for the longest time, I was bummed out about not being able to go outside and do the things I normally would. It took me a little longer to adjust to this situation than I would like to admit. Even then, it is nothing compared to what people in rural and economically disadvantaged regions of our country are facing. Lack of food, scarcity of clean water, unable to access basic necessities of everyday life and not to mention women who are using unhygienic ways to manage their menstruation because they either can’t afford menstrual products right now or have no access to them.
Let’s talk about that a little, shall we? You see, it’s not surprising that women have no access to menstrual hygiene products because according to people, sanitary pads are not an essential item. I don’t get understand the logic since women don’t have an option, we just menstruate. But the sad truth is that sanitary napkins are either not available or far too expensive for less privileged women to afford and so they come up with not so clever solutions to cope. The lack of menstrual hygiene products is an epidemic in itself. Though, I should mention that this problem was not created by the lockdown, just amplified by it.
However, the good news is that there are multiple NGOs around the country who have taken cognisance of this issue. Like for instance, in Haryana’s Narnaul town, a group of women volunteers have set a ‘pad bank’. They are distributing sanitary napkins free of cost to women in slums and rural areas.
“The lockdown has constrained the movement of everybody, especially women."
— The Indian Express (@IndianExpress) June 30, 2020
The NGO that set this pad-bank up is called Nari Shakti Club. They say that this is the first of its kind in the state.
Simran Chauhan, an activist of the NGO said, “The lockdown has constrained the movement of everybody, especially women. We used to go to colonies to distribute home-made masks to the women. Other groups were also distributing food and sanitisers to the needy people. But we soon realised the women were facing more severe problems than we anticipated which prompted us to provide sanitary napkins to them during the coronavirus pandemic.”
Haryana is probably one of the worst ranking states when it comes to women’s development and one of the top ranking states for rigid patriarchy. Which means that menstruation is still a highly taboo topic. In addition to helping women there, through this pad bank, Nari Shakti Club also wanted to start discussions about periods.
Simran explained, “By setting this pad bank we also wanted to provide a platform where such issues of women can be discussed in a state, which is known for its patriarchal set up of the society, and remove the very taboo around it.”
Also Read: Women In Remote Hilly Areas Do Not Have Access To Sanitary Pads During The Lockdown. Why Are These Not Considered Essential?
कोरोना महामारी के दौरान जरूरतमंद महिलाओं की वह हमेशा ही जानकारी के अभाव में अपने स्वास्थ्य पर ध्यान देने वाली महिलाओं को मंजू चौहान जी द्वारा निशुल्क सेनेटरी पैड बांटे गए देश हित में बढ़ाया गया एक छोटा सा कदम@mlkhattar @cmohry @narendramodi @PMOIndia @SunitaDuggal7 @smritiirani pic.twitter.com/gj7g2S9N5w
— Nari shakti club (@ClubNari) June 15, 2020
The pad bank was inaugurated by the MP of Sirsa, Sunita Duggal. Until now they have distributed 560 packets of sanitary pads in six slums of Narnaul. Their aim is very similar to the plot of the movie, Padman. To spread awareness about menstruation by offering cost-effective (in this case, free) sanitary napkins.
Shikha Sharma, a volunteer for the campaign said, “We held awareness seminars before the distribution of pads to make women more informed about the importance of sanitary pads. The response from the affected communities has been very encouraging.”
The founder of Nari Shakti Club, Manju Chauhan is a social activist who has previously campaigned against the ‘purdah system’, female foeticide and honour killings in Haryana. She also held multiple counselling sessions to help and motivate the women to speak up for their rights.
This initiative is a much-needed effort, everywhere but especially in a state like Haryana.