Girls college installs Uttar Pradesh’s first sanitary pad vending machine

Menstrual hygiene cited as one of the main reasons for high drop out rates among girls in schools and colleges.

Updated - March 29, 2016 03:01 pm IST

Published - August 13, 2015 12:08 pm IST - Lucknow

Amid concern over high dropout rate of girls because of menstrual hygiene issues, a women’s college in Lucknow has shown the way by becoming the first institution in Uttar Pradesh to install a sanitary napkin vending machine on its premises.

Unavailability of sanitary pads, absence of separate toilets for girls and lack of water in toilets reflect directly on the attendance of girls in schools and colleges. Surveys have claimed that nearly 20 to 30 per cent of girls in North India dropped out of schools after they started menstruating.

While talking about menstrual hygiene remains a taboo in the country, the “bold step” of installing an automated sanitary vending machine for its students has been taken by one of the prestigious and oldest women’s colleges - the Avadh Girl’s Degree College under Lucknow University.

“We installed the machine around a week back and response from the students is very good,” AGDC Manager Nishi Pandey told PTI. Pandey said the students are being charged Rs. 10 a piece.

“In fact we are also considering installing a disposal machine as well, as the pads are not disposed hygienically,” she said.

Pandey, who also teaches in Lucknow University, said a similar unit is being planned for the Department of English and the girls’ common room in LU.

“We have received the proposal and are awaiting approval of the Vice Chancellor,” she said, adding that at least one machine would be installed in the girls’ common room in LU.

In north India, over 30 per cent of girls interviewed said they dropped out of school after they started menstruating, says a study by AC Nielsen on Sanitary Protection: Every Woman’s Health Right .

Inadequate menstrual protection makes adolescent girls (age group 12-18 years) miss five days of school in a month (50 days a year). Around 23 per cent of these girls actually drop out of school after they started menstruating.

Only 12 per cent of Indian women use sanitary napkins while others are at risk of health problems.

UP government last year decided to distribute sanitary napkins free of cost to girls studying in government schools from class 6 to class 12 at a cost of Rs. 19.74 crore to the state exchequer.

Earlier this year, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav directed all the district magistrates in the state to ensure steps for addressing menstrual hygiene issues and asked them to promote manufacture and distribution of low cost sanitary napkins in their respective districts.

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