NGOs step in as government school girls aren’t getting any sanitary pads
Despite the re-implementation of the Shuchi scheme by the Karnataka government in the financial year 2021-22, government schools in Bengaluru are still not receiving sanitary napkins.
The scheme aims at distributing sanitary pads among adolescent girls in government schools and PU colleges.
The Observer found out that no school has received pads recently; most schools have not obtained pads from the government in the past four years.
Pushpa Lata, the headmistress of the Government Girls’ High School, Malleswaram, said: “I was not even aware that the government has re-implemented the scheme. We have not received any pads for three or four years. Even before the pandemic, we did not get the pads regularly, and then it completely stopped.”
Last year, Dr Veena V, deputy director of the Shuchi scheme, had informed The Observer that the implementation has started, and the distribution of pads would begin by November 2021. This was after the government allocated Rs 47 crore for the scheme in FY 2021-22.
However, months later, the schools have still not received any pads.
When The Observer contacted Dr Veena in February 2022, she said: “There has been a delay because the tender could not qualify. We are still pushing it, because if this time the tender fails again, the government might give up on the scheme. But we are still fighting for it. I want distribution to start very soon. I know a lot of girls get affected by this and, hence, we are trying our best.”
She said she hoped the scheme wouldn’t stop in the new financial year and the budget wouldn’t be cut.
The scheme has been getting funds from the state government since 2015. However, last year, the government reduced its budget by Rs 2 crore.
As many as 19.29 lakh girls are supposed to be benefited by the scheme. Most girls in government schools belong to low-income families who find it tough to buy sanitary napkins.
“I have a sister. We sometimes make our own sanitary napkins with old clothes; on other times, we buy them,” said Rashmi, a 14-year-old student of the Malleswaram school.
Most girls in government high schools have never received sanitary pads under the scheme. However, some government schools have been sanitary pads from NGOs and other private organizations.
“We get donations from P&G and NGOs. For a few months, we have been receiving pads this way. They provide good-quality pads, brands like Whisper and Stayfree. We have not received any pads from the government,” Reshma N, a teacher in a government school in Rajarajeshwari Nagar, shared.
“I cannot recall the last time we received Shuchi pads. They were discontinued years before the pandemic. Some girls are underprivileged and need aid from the government. It is only fair if a regular supply of pads is provided to them.” the teacher added.
The scheme was started to increase awareness about menstrual hygiene among adolescent girls. It was re-implemented after being halted in 2020.
Improper implementation of government schemes related to menstrual health takes a toll on girls relying on these schemes. Reusing cotton pads results in poor menstrual hygiene.