NABARD, on the occasion of International Day of the Rural Women, launched MY PAD.MY RIGHT, a unique developmental initiative which aims to make an impact in the area of rural menstrual hygiene by empowering rural women to take up manufacturing of sanitary pads at their own level.
The menstrual hygiene cum livelihoods programme will provide one sanitary pad making machine to Self Help Groups at district level on a demonstrative basis. The programme is being executed through NABFOUNDATION, a Section 8 Not for Profit floated by NABARD for undertaking innovative projects in a collaborative mode with all interested stakeholders.
The programme which was launched by Smriti Irani, Minister for Textiles and Women and Child Welfare, has twin objectives of encouraging livelihoods among rural women SHG members and making a difference in the rather disturbing menstrual hygiene related eco-system. As per various studies, about 40,000 rural women die every year on account of cervical cancer due to lack of access to clean pads and nearly 2.3 crore young girls leave school for the same reason. As per available figures just about 10-15% rural women have access to sanitary pads in the country.
Smriti Irani, Minister, while interacting with the SHG women on a one-to-one basis, stated, “It is indeed a wonderful moment in the history of this country when we see men coming out in the open to discuss menstrual hygiene and support women in this cause. The landmark and epoch making rallying cry of Shri Narendra Modi from Red Fort was a critical moment in the history of our nation when a Prime Minister for the first time ever touched upon a subject like menstruation.”
Smt. Irani appreciated NABARD’s initiative in addressing the much tabooed subject of menstruation and providing rural women the opportunity to manage this issue with dignity.
Dr. G R Chintala, Chairman, NABARD stated, “At NABARD, we have been working with rural women for nearly four decades now and we understand very clearly that health and hygiene are central to the physical and economic well-being of rural women. Poor menstrual hygiene results in various types of infections which finally have grave economic consequences. Even if a woman loses 3-4 days of employment in a month it has a huge impact on her savings and well-being. This project is an attempt to provide a sustainable solution in an area which truly needs sincere attention.”
The sanitary pad making machines under the project are being supplied by Padmashri Arunachalam Muruganantham, the Padman of India, who foresees India as ‘model country’ to the world in managing menstrual hygiene.
Muruganantham reiterated the importance of the ‘For the women, by the women, and of the women’ model of this project which would ensure complete outreach of the pads among the rural women as also create livelihood opportunities.
“MY PAD MY RIGHT”, over a period of time, will see one SHG in each district being provided with support of nearly Rs. 5 lakh which will cover the cost of the machine, training, rental support for one year and initial working capital for two months. The programme will be carried out in a phased manner to cover all the 700 districts in the country. One district in each state is being covered in the first phase.