“You’ll be charged ₹ 5 for this,” the medical room in-charge told me.
“Are you kidding me? ₹ 5 for a single sanitary napkin?” I replied.
“Yes, ₹ 5 for this,” the in-charge said.
“Ma’am, GST laga ke bhi ₹ 5 nahi bante iske (This won’t cost ₹ 5 even after GST),” I smirked.
“But it’s all your fault, why did you forget to bring your pad?” she replied.
“But ₹ 5 for this simple medium sized sanitary pad?” I asked.
“Take it if you want, else get lost,” she said.
This is such a mess – ₹ 5 for a simple sanitary pad! How is that even justified?
If a pack of 20 sanitary napkins cost ₹ 70, that means ₹ 3.5 per sanitary pad. Is ₹ 5 justified or is my school planning to make profits out of selling these sanitary pads?
We can all afford it, so no issue though. But sometimes, things aren’t about the monetary values, they’re about the moral values. This scenario can be of other schools as well. Other schools, where girls can’t afford sanitary napkins for ₹5.
Schools teach us equality, to ditch discrimination and prejudice. Schools teach us to be fair. But isn’t this, what they’re doing, unfair?
Instead, schools should be more focused about the health care of the girls studying there. They should properly educate them about The Menstrual Cycle. As According to UKAID, 10% of girls in India believe menstruation is a disease. And UNICEF MHM states that only 13% of the girls are aware of menstruation before their first period. Many girls quit schools after their first period as they cannot afford hygiene management of menstruation. Also, many girls are using absorbing clothes instead of a proper sanitary napkin. Well, this is quite disturbing. High cost and unavailability of Sanitary Pads is the prime reason for women and girls in Rural India not to use them.
According to a report, A study was conducted by A.C.Neilsen and endorsed by Plan India in October 2010, which stated that only 12% Indian women use Sanitary Napkins and the rest are using unsanitary methods of managing menstruation. Then, The NFHS 2015-16 survey pegs the number for women using hygienic means of managing menstruation in India at 78% in urban areas, 48% in rural areas and 58% overall. Today, nearly 6 out of 10 women in India have access to disposable sanitary napkins. Things have changed so far, I agree. But let’s make it 100%. Let’s take the initiative about making rural India more aware about the hygiene management of menstruation.
But the funniest part about my school was that the girls are actually paying for this basic need. They are not raising their voice. I don’t understand what they’re afraid of. To be honest, I haven’t paid the money yet, it’s due and I’m never going to pay that. What’s unfair is unfair and I shall not contribute towards anything like that.
Nobody wants to raise their voice against anything. We all expect change, but we don’t want to be the one to do anything about it. We all want the system to change, but nobody’s ready to take the initiative.
Being the change and raising our voice is all we need for a better future. It’s time for us to be the change, rather than wait for it.