A study published in the International Research Journal of Social Sciences suggests that 88% of menstruating women in India cannot afford sanitary napkins in India, with taxes on pads going up to 14.5% in some states. #LahuKaLagaan, #HappyToBleed and #IAmNotDown are only few of the trends that picked up on Twitter, appealing to ministers that sanitary napkins are a bare necessity and not a luxury. Turns out that Kerala’s government is the only one that did not turn a deaf ear to this movement, and in a historic move, made it mandatory for all higher secondary schools to install sanitary napkin vending machine.
Through a Facebook post (originally posted in Malayalam), Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had announced the ‘She Pad’ initiative spanning five years, allotting a budget of Rs. 30 crore, stating that every woman has a right to menstrual hygiene. He had promised installation of eco-friendly disposal systems, along with the promise of distributing sanitary pads in all schools across the state.
The initiative took flight with the mandate that all higher secondary schools, an estimated 1845 including private sector schools, in Kerala must install a sanitary napkin vending machine, and the number of machines installed need to be in direct proportion to the number of girls in the school. This is expected to be implement by the beginning of the new academic year.