ZP plans to ensure health is money for rural women

The Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat has come up with an innovative plan of enhancing the menstrual health of women, that can also generate income for some of them.

Zilla Panchayat Total Sanitation District Support Unit Supervisor Manjula G told Deccan Herald that 10 women from Laila Gram Panchayat of Belthangady Taluk will be sent to Cauvery Matha Trust in Mysore for training in producing sanitary napkins.

After completing the training, the women will set up a  unit in Laila to produce low-cost napkins that will be sold to women in rural areas, says Manjula.

The pilot project assumes significance considering that menstruation is a major reason for young girls in rural areas discontinuing their education. The challenges of menstrual hygiene as also the taboos surrounding menstruation have been reasons for the phenomenon.

Of vital importance

Maintaining menstrual hygiene is vital in every woman’s life as it affects her health and dignity. But in India, only 19 per cent of women use sanitary napkins of quality, while the rest opt for alternatives like cloth, husk as they cannot afford sanitary pads, and gynaecologists say that such practices may affect their health and reproductivity.

“The initiative, under the Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY) is the first of its kind in the State,” says Zilla Panchaya CEO P Shivshankar.

The Total Sanitation Department wants to take up this new dimension to have sanitation in every way. When self help groups can generate income through this initiative, the low cost napkins would encourage women and young girls to buy and use them. The initiative will also encourage adolescent girls to attend school, checking the dropout rate.

Information, Education and Communication (IEC) programmes for adolescent girls on issues related to puberty are conducted in schools, he said.

The Zilla Panchayat is bearing the cost of the five-day training for the 10 women, Rs 25,000. It will also provide them loan and subsidy under the SGSY scheme to start their own manufacturing unit. This programme has been started in Laila as a pilot project and may soon be implemented in other GPs, he adds.

“Cauvery Matha Trust works in association with National Bank for Rural and Agriculture Development (NABARD). Self help groups are taught to produce sanitary napkins and also handle the required machinery. The napkins are prepared from Polypropylene cloth and they cost very low. The napkins are sterilised and each of it is available for Rs two,” says Executive Director of the Trust P Saldanha. “This is a wonderful employment opportunity for the poor women and the sanitary napkins we prepare will prove very useful as many women can’t afford to buy the napkins presently available. We are enthusiastic to attend the training and start our own unit in Laila,” says Isiri Self Help Group leader Yashodha, who will be partaking in this training.

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