Five sanitary pad dispensing machines and three incinerators have been installed in five government schools (4 girls and one co-ed) by the District Programme Office Women and Child Development along with District Education Office (DEO) under the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign. Four of these five schools have a strength of over 2,000 students. The girls will get these free of cost.
The main motive behind installing these dispensing machines is to create awareness about menstrual hygiene and to sensitise the community in general that “menstural cycle” is a natural process and shouldn’t be treated as a taboo. Funds available under the “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” scheme have been utilised and dispensing machines and incinerators were also supplied by the HLL Lifecare Limited, a Government of India Enterprise.
Though, a formal opening is yet to be done, but these machines have become functional already. Sanitary pads are available in a pack of three units, and the machine will dispense one pack after one inserts a Rs 10 coin in the designated slot. For ensuring hygienic disposal of used sanitary napkins, incinerators have been installed in the washrooms for girl students, which will convert the used units into ash.
“It has been observed that in government schools, many students belong to poor families. Many girls do not come to school during their menstural cycle because of lack of awareness. Also since they can’t talk openly to anyone in the family as talking about “menstural hygiene” is considered to be a taboo,” said Surjit Lal, an English lecturer in government school and district nodal officer for this programme.
Talking to The Indian Express, Amarjit Singh Bhullar, District Programme Officer Women and Child Development said, “Dispensing machines have been installed in five government schools, and their number will be ramped up gradually”. He said that they are providing it free of cost to girls and if they want to contribute they can also do so. “We provide them coins so that they can get the pads in case of need,” he informed.
A Class X girl student of Govt. Girls Senior Secondary School (GGSSS), Nehru Garden, Jalandhar, said, “It is embarrassing to go to a chemist shop to buy sanitary pads. Moreover, they are very expensive. Installing dispensing machines has solved our problem as these are now available within school and that too free of cost. “We get the coin from teachers only for buy pads,” she said. The other schools where these machines are installed include GGSSS Adarash Nagar, GGSSS Mehatpur and Bhogpur.