In a backward state like Rajasthan where talk about menstrual hygiene is still in hushed tones, women officers have turned into Pad-Women and taken up the task of ensuring menstrual hygiene by distributing sanitary napkins to women in curfew-affected and rural areas. For this, a network of women officials and volunteers has been developed. Further, they are also ensuring neonatal and postnatal support to women in the effort to ensure timely medicines and hospital care along with passes and permissions for childbirth.
Nodal officer for Nirbhaya Squad, Sunita Meena has launched an intensive drive to provide menstrual hygiene support to the women in areas under curfew in the walled city of Jaipur. This motorbike mounted team had been formed to tackle eve teasers. They had been deployed to maintain law and order and help in ration distribution during COVID-19 crisis. But now the all women squad has the additional voluntary task of riding along the lanes and bylanes of curfew-affected Jaipur to deliver sanitary napkins.
Speaking to Free Press Journal, Additional SP and nodal officer for Nirbhaya squad, Sunita Meena said, “We have been closely working with women during the present COVID-19 pandemic. During patrol and ration distribution, there were many hesitant women who asked us if we could provide them with sanitary napkins. They were not comfortable asking even the men of their house. We then made it a priority to provide them sanitary napkins.”
“We asked donors to help, some companies came forward too. What was most heartening was that many women came forward to provide us with help. Our initial target is to distribute packs of 10 napkins to 3000 women especially those from BPL category. We are making efforts to procure more napkins and donors, as this is not a one time job,” added Meena.
Similarly BDO Karauli, Neeraj Sharma has also launched an intensive drive to provide sanitary napkins to rural women between the age of 14 to 50 years. The women have been identified with the help of women sarpanchs. “The lockdown has created a situation where women cannot move out freely. Further with money being short in the poorer sections, food and essentials become a priority. We are also concerned about the young girls who are being introduced to the concepts of menstrual hygiene and need that it be reinforced,” said Neeraj Sharma to Free Press Journal.
The Nirbhaya Squad has also initiated efforts to identify pregnant women who need medicines, nutrition, check-ups and even passes to move to hospitals for deliveries. In times of the pandemic, it is heartening to see women officers come forth and voluntarily stand up for their own gender.