At 10 am every day, Pravesh Kumar Dhama opens his Jan Aushadhi Kendra, situated in Ashok Nagar, and patiently awaits customers.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of sanitary pads for Re 1 has had little effect in his area, he says, as he points to the boxes of sanitary pads lying around on the shop floor, untouched.
“Sometimes, we manage to sell around 100 sanitary napkins in a day, but that is mostly to NGOs or other such organisations. But on most days, very few people come to buy. People visit the store from areas such as Khora colony and Trilokpuri,” he said.
Since the lockdown, many women who relied on government schools for sanitary napkins, have switched to ordinary cloth.
An interaction with women staying just down the road from Dhama’s shop revealed that most are still unaware of the cheaper alternative at the Jan Aushadhi Kendra.
Most of them said that it has become difficult to buy sanitary napkins since their daughters stopped going to school.
Class XII student Priti Sharma (19) was among those who used to collect sanitary napkins from school. “Now we have online classes so we don’t have a choice but to buy sanitary napkins. I tried using cloth a few times but it was very uncomfortable. So I started buying packets at Rs 30 each.”
Her mother, Sushma Devi Sharma (48), has returned to using cloth like she would when she was younger. “My husband is unwell and I am a housewife. We are financially dependent on my son who works as a tailor. Obviously, we cannot afford pads for two women, so I use old pieces of cloth.”
The family was unaware of sanitary napkins being sold at Jan Aushadhi Kendras for Re 1 each.
A few women, however, knew of the Jan Aushadhi Kendra, and had started going there during the lockdown. Suman Kumari (43) said, “I started buying from the kendra since both my daughters stopped attending school due to the lockdown. It is a cheaper alternative.”
Dr Surbhi Singh, gynecologist and founder of NGO Sachhi Saheli, said, “It took some time for subsidised sanitary napkins sold by the kendras to pick up. Recently, many people have donated these pads to the NGO. I have distributed them among needy women across the city. Some gave positive feedback, while others said that they are not very comfortable as they are smaller than napkins made by other companies.”
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