Students face a great number of difficulties when it comes to sanitation and hygiene. In terms of access to and maintenance of basic standards of cleanliness, toilets in many Indian colleges and universities fail to meet even the bare minimum cleanliness standards. In such a situation, if you happen to be a menstruating woman, it’s twice as hard just to get through the day.
A sanitary napkin vending machine has been installed at University of Delhi’s Keshav Mahavidyalaya college girls’ hostel as part of “women empowerment and hygiene”. The machine has been installed under ‘Mission AAA’ (Awareness, Availability, and Affordability) launched by CSR Research Foundation, an NGO, in collaboration with ONGC.
Principal Dr. Madhu Pruthi welcomed the CSR initiative saying such efforts would break the myths and stereotypes related to menstruation process. The proctor of Delhi University, Prof Neeta Sehgal hailed this move and said “It is a welcome step of the CSR Foundation along with the ONGC to organise such event at Keshav Mahavidyalaya, which is a co-educational institute. This step is a step towards gender sensitisation”.
The machine will make sanitary napkins more affordable and readily accessible for the female students, by dispensing a pad at a minimal cost. The initiative will also encourage a dialogue on issues related to menstruation and feminine hygiene.
Feature Image Credits: India Times
The University Grants Commission (UGC), a statutory body that provides recognition and funds to several institutes of higher education across India, including the University of Delhi, has recently issued a statement asking varsities to install sanitary napkin incinerators in all women’s hostels. The move aims to benefit both the environment and women’s hygiene.
A communication by the UGC stated, “In an effort to promote proper disposal of menstrual waste and promote the Swachh Bharat Mission, it is imperative that we take the initiative to promote menstrual sanitation and proper disposal of menstrual waste by creating awareness, encouraging every woman to use eco-friendly incinerators and promoting research for biodegradable alternatives.” The communication also added, “You are requested to consider the installation of these machines within the premises of women’s hostels.”
According to the UGC, the estimated cost of the equipment is INR 49,646, an amount that can be “directly booked under the solid waste management component of the Swachh Bharat Mission”. The statutory body also elaborated that HLL Lifecare Limited, which is a public sector undertaking under the Ministry of Health, has recently introduced vending machines and incinerators for sanitary napkins.
Proper disposal of menstrual waste is crucial for feminine hygiene as well as for the environment. Sanitary napkins are the go-to product for the majority of Indian women. The material that they are made of is non-biodegradable. This means that the disposal of pads in household trash leads to landfills overflowing with menstrual waste. Burning them is not a solution as it leads to the release of toxic fumes into the atmosphere. Additionally, sanitary napkins that are disposed incorrectly often end up blocking drainage systems. There is also the high risk of disease and unhygienic conditions near areas where menstrual waste is concentrated. Menstrual blood in open air attracts all sorts of bacteria to grow in it and affect the hygiene of the surroundings.
Incinerators are the best way to dispose of sanitary napkins. They provide a long-lasting and eco-friendly solution by restricting the amount of smoke produced in the incineration to the small machine. The communication by the UGC is, therefore, a welcome step in making sure women’s accommodation caters to their specific needs and provides proper hygiene along with fulfilling environmental responsibilities.
Feature Image Credits: India Education Review