Menstrual health is a subject that continues to be shunned from the mainstream discourse due to the taboo attached to it. Certain communities continue to attach it to archaic ideas of customs and biases, making menstrual health one of the most challenging development issues in the world. On a global level, at least 500 million women and girls are said to be deprived of adequate facilities for their menstrual hygiene management.
In India, many state governments have made active efforts to change this narrative, but it has still not been able to cover a large section of women, especially rural women. Majority of the time, the lack of adequate resources roots starting from cultural notions of concepts such as the pink tax.
However, understanding how crucial menstrual health is to the well-being of the woman, Rajasthan Government has sanctioned an amount to provide free menstrual pads to women.
An Extension Of Last Year's Free Sanitary Napkin Scheme
The Rajasthan Medical Services Corporation Limited (RMSCL) had proposed the plan and provided free sanitary napkins to multiple districts and institutions in the last year. Around 26,220 schools in 31 districts and 31,255 anganwadi centres in 23 districts benefitted from this scheme, which received total funding of ₹104.78 crores.
Expanding this scheme to cover a larger crowd, the women and child development minister, Mamta Bhupesh, said that a budgetary provision of ₹200 crores had been allocated for the financial year 2022-23. With this fund approval, they aim to provide free sanitary napkins to over 1.15 crore beneficiaries at 60,361 anganwadi centres in 33 districts and 26.48 lakh beneficiaries in 34,104 government schools in Rajasthan.
This move would make Rajasthan the first state in the country to have implemented such a scheme on a large scale, said the minister, as quoted by NDTV.
She also added that the scheme would be implemented under the "I Am Shakti Udan" project, which has been implemented in phases across the state.
Udaan Scheme Toward Building A Healthy Community Of Women
The I Am Shakti Udaan Yojana was introduced by chief minister Ashok Gehlot on the occasion of three years of the state government's tenure. Along with minister Bhupesh, the plan was set at such a pace that 1.2 crore women of Rajasthan would be benefited from this scheme in a phased manner. As per a report by the Times of India, Gehlot had assured that there would be no shortage of funds that would affect the scheme.
Regarding the scheme, Gehlot said, "Out of the women-related diseases happening in the state, 60% are due to non-adherence to menstrual hygiene. Keeping all these things in mind, the Udaan scheme is an innovative initiative of the government of Rajasthan…On such a large scale, this is a unique initiative of Rajasthan in the country itself".
Since then, it has brought awareness about menstrual dignity and safety and encouraged several adolescent girls and women to use sanitary napkins.
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