Budget allocation for menstrual cups a recognition of Muhamma model

Following ‘sustainable menstruation’ campaigns by the panchayat, majority of women in the local body shifted to reusable cloth pads, menstrual cups

Published - February 15, 2023 06:41 pm IST - ALAPPUZHA

An allocation of ₹10 crore in the 2023-24 State Budget for the promotion of environmental-friendly and economically viable menstrual cups as an alternative to single-use sanitary napkins is seen as a recognition of the Muhamma grama panchayat’s successful efforts in persuading women to switch to reusable pads.

While the government intends to carry out awareness programmes and campaigns in schools, colleges and workplaces to promote the use of menstrual cups, Muhamma, a low-lying area in Cherthala taluk, is basking in the achievement of becoming the “first synthetic sanitary pad-free village in India” in 2020.

Back in 2018, after noticing that the sanitary waste generated in the local body was impacting soil health and water quality, the panchayat joined forces with Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), a Bengaluru-based non-profit organisation, to launch ‘sustainable menstruation campaigns’. Along with creating awareness, a few menstruating women were given cloth pads and menstrual cups. After receiving a good initial response, a project was launched towards the end of 2019 for distributing them to women at subsidised rates.

First panchayat

The local body made history by becoming the first panchayat to use the plan fund to distribute free cloth pads to school students. The local body also took steps to replace synthetic pads with reusable ones in shops selling them in Muhamma.

As a result of the intense campaign, the majority of women in the panchayat made the switch to reusable cloth pads and menstrual cups by 2020. The project was first recognised as a model by the Suchitwa Mission in 2019. Muhamma was declared a synthetic sanitary pad-free village by Haritha Keralam Mission in November 2020.

“The allocation of ₹10 crore for the promotion of menstrual cups as an alternative to synthetic sanitary pads is a recognition of the hard work of the Muhamma panchayat and ATREE. This is a significant step forward in ensuring women’s health and environmental protection,” says J. Jayalal, former president, Muhamma grama panchayat.

Reema Anand, senior programme officer, ATREE, says the campaign has sparked positive changes in society. Apart from blocking canals and contaminating the land and water sources, we found women were suffering from health problems and allergies caused by synthetic sanitary pads. It prompted us to launch the campaign. Since then, many panchayats across the State have emulated the Muhamma model,” Ms. Anand says.

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