The District Magistrate
Subject: Inactive state of government schemes launched to improve menstrual hygiene and sanitation facilities.
I am writing to you this letter to highlight the inactive state of schemes launched by the government to tackle the high rate of school dropout among the female students, aged 11-14, years of the state of Uttar Pradesh.
The study conducted by ICDS revealed that in UP, Bahraich had the highest number of female students who dropped out of school in the year 2018-2019. The primary reason for the disturbing state of data has been mentioned as the lack of proper awareness and facilities for girls to manage their menstrual hygiene and post-puberty body changes. In response to this news, a multitude of initiatives were taken by MWCD and the Department of School Education and Literacy.
I will mention here a few initiatives taken by the state to improve the menstrual hygiene scenario as per the Swachh Bharat guidelines. The scheme to locally manufacture and sell biodegradable sanitary napkins was launched by the panchayati raj department of UP government in 2018. The napkins were to be distributed through the Aanganwadi centers by the ASHA workers. Suvidha sanitary napkins were made available at Jan Aushadhi Kendras in May 2018 under the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Pariyojna. The price of these sanitary napkins was reduced to ₹1 per piece in August 2019. In addition to this the Department of School Education and Literacy installed vending machines and incinerators in Upper Primary Schools.
Undoubtedly, a huge amount of effort and fund has been invested to ensure the awareness around menstrual hygiene in adolescent girls, availability of low cost biodegradable sanitary products and the methods for their safe disposal. The unfortunate part is, hardly any of it is active at the ground level. After visiting many Aanganwadi centers and interacting with the female students of upper primary schools of the district, I can conclude that only a very small fraction of the above mentioned initiatives is reaching households via awareness sessions that are being conducted at not all but only a few AWCs. This implies that all the efforts are going down the drain while more than 50% of, both, the rural and the marginalized sections of urban community are still using unsafe traditional ways and following superstitious rituals to deal with menstruation.
Thus, I hereby request you that to ensure unhindered education and a healthy life to the adolescent girls of our district, please take no new initiatives but take strict actions to ensure the implementation of existing schemes and launch extensive awareness and counselling sessions at all the government upper primary schools. Making these schools the awareness and resource centers can encourage the association of the targeted section of the community with the schools also bridging the existing gap between the community and the schools.