In May 2017, Kerala became India’s first state to install sanitary napkin vending machines, in over 60 places, proving itself to truly be one of India’s more conscious states. However, on the very first day of 2018, Bhopal Railway Station earned itself a few stars too, by becoming the nation’s first station to install a sanitary napkin vending machine.
Known as ‘Happy Nari’, these machines are installed on Platform Number One, near the women’s waiting room, by the Railway Women Welfare Association of Bhopal along with a local NGO called Arushi. The machine dispenses two sanitary napkins at an affordable cost of INR 5 and holds up to 75 pads in total. A trained female employee at the station, is in charge of refilling the same.
The response so far has been incredible, considering the machine was refilled over eight times of the very first day of its installation. More than 600 sanitary napkins were purchased by female passengers as well as women staying near the station, clearly highlighting the need and importance of sanitary napkin dispensers at public places.
The entire cost of setting up the machine, employing staff to monitor it, as well as purchasing the sanitary napkins came up to INR 20,000. The Railways Women’s Welfare Association will bear the cost of the machine’s maintenance. Serving as the pilot project, the service will soon expand to other platforms at Bhopal Junction and Habibganj Railway station, if this initiative continues to be successful. The association is also looking at setting up a sanitary napkin incinerator in the women’s waiting room for safe and hygienic disposal of used sanitary napkins. In a country where menstruation is still considered a taboo and buying sanitary napkins often feels like a shady shopping trip, this is a quite the leap towards awareness and sensitivity about menstrual hygiene and women’s health.
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