Oil marketing companies(OMCs) under Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas launched Ujjwala Sanitary Napkin Initiative in Odisha as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR). This Central scheme aims to expand women’s access to hygiene products and provide them with employment opportunities. It will be counter to Odisha Government’s Khushi scheme, in which sanitary napkins are provided free of cost to female students of government and government-aided schools in the state.
Need for Such Initiative
There is very little awareness about menstrual hygiene during periods among girls and women in general in rural areas of Odisha. Very few women in Odisha use sanitary napkins as compared other states. According to data from National Family Health Survey-4 (NFHS-4), overall use of sanitary napkins in Odisha is 33.5% and only 42.8% of rural women between age of 15 and 24 years use proper hygienic methods of protection during menstruation. The main reasons for such low usage of sanitary napkins are high costs of pads, their unavailability in rural areas and awkwardness among women to purchase them from male chemists.
KEY FEATURES: Ujjwala Sanitary Napkin Initiative
- Under it, around 100 local sanitary napkins manufacturing units will be set up by OMCs at Common Service Centres (CSCs) across 93 blocks in all 30 districts of Odisha.
- OMCs have started this initiative on a pilot basis and would be expanded across the state if the module gets success.
- The initiative will help change way rural Odisha perceives menstrual health, achieving the twin objective of improving women's health and encouraging basic hygiene practices
- OMCs will provide machineries and raw material for one time in these centres. These centers will be completely managed by women and inturn earn income by selling the pads.
- Each facility will have the capacity to produce 1200-2000 pads each day. It will also have sterilization room to ensure that napkins are sterilized before they are packed for use of rural women.
- The sanitary pads in these centers will be made of biodegradable substances such as virgin wood pulp sheet, non-woven white sheet and gel sheet.
- OMCs will provide women running these manufacturing centres proper training in manufacturing and sale of sanitary napkins.
- It will promote menstrual hygiene and increase awareness among young girls on usage of sanitary pads.
- It will help to reduce school absenteeism i.e. boost school attendance among school girls.
- It will help to create employment opportunities for women in rural areas.
- In long run it will create awareness about health and education.