After all the havoc created by charging 12% tax on the use of sanitary napkins due to GST, people around the globe seemed to agitate for the same including men. Probably after years of efforts, people finally seem to accept the fact that menstruation is not a sin. And thus Maharashtra government took an initiative of availing sanitary pads at a subsidized rate of Rs. 5 for rural girls aging from 11 to 19.

The state cabinet approved the Asmita scheme on 3Oth January which intends to raise the percentage of usage of sanitary pads from 17% to 75% among the rural women, especially girls.
“The use of sanitary pads (among girls and women) stands at around 17% due to high costs. It has also been noticed that girls remain absent for 50-60 days a year during their menstrual cycles. Thus, along with health, absenteeism was also an issue,” Pankaja Munde, Women and Child Development Minister told PTI.

The government has engaged 3 small-scale manufacturers in co-ordinance of Self Help Groups run by women in the state. It shall cost the government Rs. 24 for 24O mm and Rs. 29 for 28O mm, including the profit margins to be distributed to SHGs, which shall be provided at a subsidized rate of Rs. 5.

Besides the school girls, it also intends to target the 1.75 crore rural women who can buy the pads at the cost price of Rs. 24 and Rs. 29 as specified, which is much lower than the market price.
“The packs are still cheaper than their market price. The usage of pads in rural areas is even lesser than the national average of 17%” said Aseem Gupta, Secretary, Rural Development Department to the Hindustan Times.

To establish its importance and to provide adequate time for the production of safe sanitary pads, this scheme is to be implemented on 8th March this year, on the occasion of International Women’s Day.
“The SHGs will get Rs. 5 per pack to market these packs. The scheme will be launched on World Women’s Day on March 8,” said Pankaja Munde.

The estimated annual burden of subsidy shall cost Rs. 12.75 crore to the state government, but the initiative is worth taking the cost and that is what the government had done. Subsidized sanitary pads could also lead to a revolution surely as a major issue of not using them apart from the orthodox beliefs is its cost. But the notions seem to be breaking, people are seemed to get aware. Women bleed with pride, and thus sanitary pads are not a need but a right.

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