At a time when the Congress in Uttar Pradesh is making news for giving 50 per cent tickets to women candidates, the party’s government in Rajasthan is garnering accolades for launching a women-friendly project, “I am Udaan”. Costing Rs 200 crore, under this scheme each girl and woman in the state will receive free sanitary napkins, no matter how remote their dwelling is.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in an exclusive e-interview with IANS termed it as the most aspirational scheme of the state and said: “Periods or menstruation is such an issue for our society where there is always hesitation in discussing it while this is a natural process.”
Expressing surprise at the results of a recently held survey, he said: “I was surprised to know that about 62 per cent of women in the country use products other than the sanitary pad, which has an adverse effect on their health. Doctors say that using a cloth during menstruation leads to several illnesses, including cervical cancer which may also lead to death. Hence, we announced in this year’s budget to provide sanitary napkins to all women in the state with Rs 200 crore.”
In the recently released national family health survey, many surprising facts have been revealed which say that 62 per cent of the women are unaware of period hygiene and 24 per cent of adolescent girl students mark their absence from school during periods.
The survey also reveals that only 57 per cent women in the country use sanitary napkins.
Going with these facts, the Rajasthan government has ensured that the females of the state need not go with these challenges and hence has launched the first of its kind “I am Udaan” project,’ under which neither will the women have to ignore personal hygiene nor will they have to spend money on it.
Under the first phase of the project launched on December 19 last year, 26 lakh girls will be benefited as 12 napkins each month will be provided to each girl in senior secondary, secondary and higher secondary schools.
In the rural areas, 1,412 Anganwadi centres in 282 blocks of village areas have been identified in which sanitary napkins are being distributed to 3 lakh adolescent girls and women in the 18-45 age group.
Overall 29 lakh women and girls will be benefited in the first phase under the project.
The women and child department has been entrusted with the responsibility of the successful implementation of the project.
The sanitary napkins will be purchased by the Rajasthan Medical Service Corporation Limited and supplied to Anganwadi centres.
The self help groups in the state will be trained to manufacture these napkins and to sell, market and distribute them to the target groups.
Also NGOs will be roped in to spread awareness about women’s health.
Gehlot told IANS: “We have launched the first phase of this scheme on December 19. I believe that there should be a debate in the state and across the country and the governments make schemes (for this) in the interest of women and girls so that the women feel that the governments stand with them and they don’t need to feel any hesitation.”