The napkins will be supplied by self-help-groups
Adolescent girl students enrolled in middle and high schools in Bihar will get free one-year supply of sanitary napkins. The state government has been planning to launch the scheme to meant to check girl students from dropping out and improve their academic performance for the past one year.
The state cabinet allocated annual fund of Rs 220 crore for free distribution of napkins from next academic semester. “The scheme will enhance better academic and personal development of girl students,” Brajesh Mehrotra, principal secretary for Cabinet coordination said.
The state has launched the scheme much before the Centre's scheme to provide subsidised sanitary napkins to adolescent girls in the age group of 10-19 years in rural India. The Central scheme is likely to be launched in August. As part of promotion of menstrual hygiene, the Centre will provide napkins to adolescent girls at a cost of Rs 6 for a pack of six (Re. 1 per piece) through accredited social health activists (ASHAs).
Read more on menstrual hygiene
On an average, the state will spend Rs 100 per adolescent girl student for providing sanitary napkins. The government has also decided to install separate dustbins inside girls toilets for safe disposal of used sanitary napkins.
Amarjeet Sinha, principal secretary, education told Down To Earth that women run self- help-groups would manufacture sanitary napkins. “The scheme will not only boost the confidence of girl students but also improve their attendance rate,” he said.
Experts in state had been advocating for effective initiatives to boost awareness about reproductive health. Binod Bihari, state training coordinator for UNICEF, claimed that menstruation has been a taboo in the state.
“In our field work, we found unhygienic use of synthetic clothes, papers and repeated use of same clothes by rural girls during menstruation period,” he said. He added that free sanitary napkins will be a massive health booster for rural girl students.
Bihar state education department had earlier started the scheme of free bicycles for girl students. The scheme considerably improved attendance rate of girl students in the schools. The bicycle scheme was later universalised entitling both girls and boys to get a free cycles.
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