In a bid to ensure access to menstrual hygiene for adolescent girls and young women, the Andhra Pradesh government has launched a program under which branded sanitary napkins will be provided free of cost to girl students of government educational institutions. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy on Tuesday launched the 'Swechha' program to tackle the stigma attached to menstruation encourage a healthy dialogue of information. Jagan noted that many reports stated that almost 23% of the young girls in this country are staying away from attending schools and colleges during menstruation. "One should not shy away from talking about menstruation. We need to create more awareness among female students and educate them on safe practices," the Chief Minister observed on the occasion.
Under the initiative, the state government will provide quality branded sanitary napkins to female students at government educational institutions, free of cost. Ten sanitary napkins will be given every month to about 10 lakh adolescent girls studying from grades 7-12 in all government schools and intermediate colleges across the state at a financial outlay of Rs 32 crore. A total of 120 napkins per year is allotted to every female student. Even during summer vacations, the students will be supplied with their quota before they leave school.
"We are a government that strongly believes that the power to change history lies with the women in our state, let us help them move forward," the Chief Minister said. The branded free sanitary products being supplied are a result of the state government entering MOUs with corporate conglomerates like P&G and Niine Pvt Ltd. Additionally through the MOUs signed, sanitary napkins will be sold at YSR Cheyutha retail stores at lowered prices to around 1 crore women residing in both rural and urban areas.
Each school will have a female educator appointed as a nodal officer to help female students with sanitary napkins supply, safe methods of disposal, and any assistance the students may require. Further for a safer and environment-friendly way of disposal, the state government has set up 6,417 incinerators across the state through the Clean Andhra Pradesh (CLAP) initiative.