To Dr Bharat Bhushan
Director, Department of Social Welfare
Subject: Lack of Sanitary napkin Dispenser and Disposal Machines
This letter is to bring to your attention that according to National Family and Health Survey 2015-16, 62 per cent females in Jammu and Kashmir use cloth during their menstruation and in rural areas, it is seen that the same cloth is reused after being washed which can cause Urinary Tract infection and other diseases. Lack of awareness regarding female hygiene is one of the issues but another more prominent problem is the high cost of sanitary napkins as well as lack of disposal methods of sanitary napkins.
In rural areas, even if women wish to resort to hygienic methods, lack of resources poses a big problem. I urge you to undertake a female hygiene awareness campaign #BleedSafe and install sanitary napkin dispensers in every Panchayat with the help of the elected Panch/Sarpanch. The sanitary napkin dispenser should be installed near every Public Toilet and it should provide Sanitary Napkins at a low cost of Rs 1-2 or even free of cost if that is feasible.
Furthermore, the near proximity of the Public Toilet, as well as availability of an attendant who can help out in case the women have trouble using the dispenser, will urge more and more women to use sanitary napkins instead of cloth. But that is only possible if women are made aware of the health hazards of using and reusing cloth during menstruation.
Even in urban areas of Jammu and Kashmir, females end up compromising of menstrual hygiene not because of lack of awareness but due to lack of availability of resources. The problem in urban areas regarding access to sanitary napkins is not as grave but disposal of those sanitary napkins is the main issue. Even the females using sanitary napkins or tampons end up using it for the entire day since proper disposal is not possible. As such, I urge you to do a similar campaign in the cities as well but while installing Sanitary Napkin Disposal Machines near every Public Toilet.
In Samba district, the women of Ghagwal have started making their own low-cost sanitary pads with assistance from the Department of Rural Development. Their unit will benefit if their products are bought by the government and used as a supply for the Sanitary Napkin Dispensers set-up across the district.
Since the main objective of the Department of Social Welfare is to encourage Non-Govt. Voluntary Organisations/Social activist to work for the welfare of Women and Mobilising Community resources for meeting the social need and solving the local problems in rural areas, it can help local NGOs to establish similar low-cost sanitary pad units in the rest of the districts. The product will be affordable to rural women and it will help them discard their traditional method of using unhygienic cloth. It will also empower rural women by giving them financial independence.