‘Bahini’, a State government scheme to provide free sanitary napkins to every girl students above Class 9, was announced by Chief Minister P.S. Golay on Friday during a programme held at Melli.
The ‘Bahini’ scheme is being implemented from new fiscal 2022-23. Sikkim is the first State to provide free sanitary napkins in all schools in the State, it was informed.
Speaking to the press today, Chief Minister’s press secretary Bikash Basnet shared that under the ‘Bahini’ scheme, sanitary pad vending machines would be established in all secondary and senior secondary schools in Sikkim. This will give access to free sanitary pads to the girls in these schools round the year, he informed.
Along with this, awareness and sensitization programmes on menstrual health and hygiene and safe disposal of sanitary pads will be held in these schools. In schools where vending machines cannot be installed, distribution will be done manually through identified lady teachers.
Funds for the scheme will be provided partly by the State government and partly through CSR contribution, it was informed.
“Under the vision of the Chief Minister, the ‘Bahini’ scheme will be placed in the upcoming Budget session and the amount will be evaluated accordingly,” said Basnet.
There are 120 secondary schools and 90 senior secondary schools in Sikkim. Altogether, these 210 schools have 18,665 girl students (9,586 in secondary schools and 9,079 in senior secondary schools), Basnet informed.
Scheme Bahini To Create Awareness
The main objective behind installing these dispensing machines is 100% access to free and safe sanitary pads to secondary and senior secondary school going girls, to create awareness about menstrual hygiene and to sensitise the students that “menstrual cycle” is a natural process and to reduce the dropouts in adolescent girls and provide them safe and healthy environment.
Only 12% of India’s 355 million women use sanitary napkins. About 23% of adolescent girls drop out of school since proper facilities are not provided to them when they are menstruating.
In schools, girls do not have access to functional toilets, access to clean water and proper sanitation and disposable facilities. Even among the school going girls, it is believed that inadequate menstrual protection makes adolescent girls among the 12-18 years age group miss 5 days of school in a month.
Women are prone to reproductive track diseases, much of which stems from un-hygienic menstrual health. Every school girl will use sanitary napkins and dispose their used pads in an eco-friendly way.
This will benefit the health and hygiene of every girl. This facility will bring relief and build confidence in the minds of girls, it was informed.