Image Source: India Times
Bhopal has been in the news lately after it installed a sanitary napkin dispenser at Bhopal Junction which is the main railway station in Bhopal. This move by the Railway Women Welfare Association makes this railway station the first in India to have an automated sanitary napkin dispenser.
It was inaugurated on 1st January 2018 by a Grade IV worker who was the senior-most worker at the station. Within the first day of its installation, the sanitary napkin dispenser had to be refilled 9 times by a specially trained worker at the station (according to CN Traveller). The dispenser, named “Happy Nari” can hold only 75 napkins at a time which means that at least 600 napkins were taken within just 9 hours of installation. This clearly shows how much it is needed in not just railway stations but other public places as well.
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Divisional Railways Manager Shobhan Chaudhary had rightly said that he was surprised by the response since the women availed the facility even without any advertisement having been used. Their next move is to install a sanitary napkin incinerator for the proper disposal of the napkins which would be installed inside the women’s waiting area on platform 1.
The dispenser gives two napkins at the price of INR 5 which is pretty economical. Women who were using the railways and even women who lived in the slum areas near the station had come in to buy these sanitary napkins. The most thoughtful part is that it is situated on platform 1, close to the women’s waiting area, making it easily accessible for women.
Bhopal Railway Division Public Relations Officer Siddiqui has said that “Happy Nari” was introduced as a pilot project and that if it is successful, they would install more dispensers on the other platforms at the station and also install them in Bhopal’s second station at Habibganj.
This is not the first time India has installed sanitary napkin dispensers for the benefit of the public. In May 2017, Kerala had become the first state in India to install sanitary napkin dispensers in all Government schools. The ‘She Pad’ scheme made it mandatory to ensure that the number of sanitary napkin vending machines were proportionate to the number of girl students. It was implemented under the leadership of State Women Development Corporation.
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Ugdam School for Children has also installed these sanitary napkin vending machines in their Jodhpur and Thaltej branches. A napkin can be procured by inserting a 5 rupee coin. You can dispense 2 napkins by inserting a 10 rupee coin into the machine. They have been installed in the girl’s washroom making it easier to use. The girls will no longer have to hide the napkins in their pockets or ask their teachers for napkins.
Recently, the Supreme Court has also decided to install sanitary napkin dispensers to help the female lawyers and litigants so that they don’t have to make an emergency dash to the chemist whenever they need a napkin while at work. They also plan on installing sanitary napkin incinerators for safe disposal of the napkins.
Image Source: Hindustan Times
It is high time we made them available at other public places as well. Our offices, schools, shopping centres and restaurants should all have sanitary napkin dispensers installed in the washrooms. It is a basic hygiene necessity for women and therefore should be made more accessible to women.