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Sub-standard sanitary napkins under govt scheme prompts Palghar women to switch to cloth

Daily struggle: As Palghar is a parched district where women walk kilometres to fetch water, using cloth during their periods is a nightmarish experience. Pictures shows women carrying water from a distant well at Kundachapada village in Jawahar.

Daily struggle: As Palghar is a parched district where women walk kilometres to fetch water, using cloth during their periods is a nightmarish experience. Pictures shows women carrying water from a distant well at Kundachapada village in Jawahar.   | Photo Credit: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

Napkins provided under Asmita Yojana are of poor quality; women stop using them after a few months

The Asmita Yojana was unveiled with the aim of getting women in rural areas to use hygienic products like sanitary napkins during their periods, but the irony couldn’t be greater. Women in villages in Palghar district where the scheme was implemented have gone back to using cloth due to the inferior quality of napkins provided through the scheme. In most other villages, as The Hindu reported on Wednesday, villagers were not even aware of the scheme.

Women of Moi village, Wada taluka, stopped using them after a few months. “They started complaining about the napkins’ soaking capacity. The napkins wouldn’t last more than 20 minutes, probably due to the quality of cotton, and so they stopped using them,” said Pragati Gaikar, member of a self-help group in the village.

Vishaka Thakre, upa sarpanch of Mandva village, Wada, said the response to the scheme was good when it began, but soon enough, women started complaining about the napkins’ quality. “We contacted the expansion officer of Umed, Sunil Patil, and informed him about the napkins being of inferior quality,” she said.

 

Many SHGs still have the unsold napkins. “Women who could afford sanitary napkins in the open market have gone back to using those while those who can’t, are forced to continue using cloth. We have to now convince women to purchase these napkins as we have to sell the stock,” said Ms. Thakre.

Mr. Patil said the scheme failed due to poor response. “At the time of implementing the scheme, we gave sanitary napkins to the SHG. But after the second round of dispatching sanitary napkins, women stopped purchasing these napkins. As we work at the ground level, we found out that women were not happy with the quality of the napkins,” he said.

According to Mr. Patil, many women felt the napkins that were provided were not worth spending money on and were worse than the cloth they used. “After many complaints about the product and a sharp drop in demand, we informed chief executive officer R. Vimla of the Maharashtra State Rural Livelihoods Mission in charge of Umed. She acted on it and the agency supplying the napkins was changed. But by then there was no demand for these napkins and we don’t have updates regarding the appointment of a new agency,” he said.

With the minimal amount of money that women in Palghar earn, affording sanitary napkins in the open market is a distant dream.

Pramila Dhodi, a mother of two who lives in the Tokvipada village of Vikramgad, said she has never seen sanitary napkins. “The women here have no access to them. I have heard they are expensive, but if the government manages to make them available for us, we will be able to shift from using cloth to sanitary napkins,” she said.

Palghar is also a parched district where women walk several kilometres to fetch water and using cloth during the menstrual cycle is a nightmarish experience.

Neelam Korda (15), who comes to draw water from a well in Kundachapada village in Jawahar, said, “Women of the village have to walk for miles to fetch water for their households. The roads aren’t very good either, and in such harsh conditions when women menstruate, it’s nothing less than hell. The use of cloth causes rashes and leads to staining. The onset of the menstrual cycle is like a curse to us,” she said. Ms. Korda said women in the village have requested anganwadi employees time and again to arrange for sanitary napkins to no avail.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 2:06:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/palghar-women-prefer-cloth-to-junk-sanitary-napkins/article27142541.ece

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