Eager to help out girl students from humble backgrounds to maintain high levels of personal hygiene, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Monday launched a “Kishori Scheme” under which sanitary napkins would be distributed to adolescent girls.

With the launch of the scheme, Delhi becomes the first State in the country to reach out to as many as 7.5 lakh girls at one go with a scheme that aims to provide them a “better and healthier life with dignity”.

Ms. Dikshit, who also inaugurated a workshop to sensitise the staff of the Education Department on implementation of this scheme across Delhi, said girls studying from Class VI to Class XII would be covered. The distribution of napkins is also aimed at ensuring that these girls do not get affected with bacterial infection and cervical cancer.

To begin with, the scheme would be implemented in 729 schools from December 1 and the Delhi Government would spend Rs.1.05 crore on it each month.

Ms. Dikshit said her government has been concentrating on the welfare of girls by supporting them financially, educationally and socially. She said the Laadli scheme was also implemented to ensure high enrolment of girls in the schools and improve the gender ratio in the Capital.

Now with the Kishori Scheme, she said, the tradition was being continued. “Traditionally, women have been very shy about the phenomenon of menstruation and are in a habit of keeping it confidential considering it a taboo. The lack of information and access to affordable options to maintain basic hygiene standards during difficult days every month not only affects the health resulting in bacterial infection and cervical cancer but also translates into girls turning away from sports activities or even missing the school classes, thus jeopardising their future. The scheme would underline the importance of using sanitary napkins instead of discarded clothes and other harmful material,” a statement by the Delhi Government said.

The launch of the scheme was also attended by Delhi Education Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely who said this was the second major scheme to be launched for students this year after Chacha Nehru Sehat Yojana through which free health check-ups and treatment are being provided to students.