At the time when the lockdown owing to coronavirus outbreak has virtually brought life to a standstill for many, women, particularly those hailing from low-income backgrounds and those stuck within containment zones, are struggling with an additional dilemma. Sanitary napkins, which is an essential commodity for every woman, was not part of the essential items supplied by government agencies or civic body.
However, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in association with the Skill Development Department of Maharashtra has started distributing sanitary napkins free of cost to women in slums, daily wagers, who are grappling with the loss of income and even those stuck within containment zones across the city.
While those stuck within containment zones cannot move out, others living in slums cannot afford to buy sanitary napkins. After receiving requests from various Self Help Groups (SHG), Organisations working for women's welfare and those working on the field in slum areas, BMC requested the state skill development department to help procure sanitary napkin packets in huge numbers.
"After getting requests from various groups about the requirement of sanitary napkins we decided to take up distribution of the same. There are over one lakh women who required sanitary napkin packets. Accordingly, We placed a procurement request with the skill development department. The packets that we have received have already been distributed, we are now waiting for more," said Shashi Bala, Head of BMC's Business Development Cell.
Meanwhile, the innovation society under the state Skill development department has been working with various NGO's and corporate companies to procure packets of sanitary napkins from manufacturers via CSR and crowdfunding initiatives.
"Sanitary Napkins are necessities, not a luxury, hence so we are considering it as an essential commodity. We had got a requirement of 5 lakh packets of sanitary napkins, which is around 30-35 lakh sanitary napkins (depending on the number of napkins in each packet). We have so far managed to procure and donate 9,82,400 sanitary napkins and the efforts procure more is going on," said Ruchi Singhania, manager corporate affairs of Maharashtra state innovation society.
According to Singhania, her department has procured around 25,000 packets of sanitary napkins from Saral designs via Essar foundation through CSR support, another 25,000 was procured from Ashmita group under Maharashtra state Rural livelihood Mission (MSRLM). " Apart from these 50,000 packets of from Saral designs and Ashmita group, we have procured 90,000 more packets (5.40 lakh sanitary napkins) from Procter & Gamble. Meanwhile, Saral designs have even started a crowdfunding initiative with Milaap (An online crowdfunding platform) through which they have donated 52,400 sanitary napkins. We have collected over 9.82 lakh sanitary napkins so far, we are approaching more manufacturers and donors," added, Singhania.