Karnataka to give free sanitary pads for school and college girls from October
The Karnataka government plans to resume distributing free sanitary pads to 40 lakh girl students aged 10-18 in state schools and colleges through the Shuchi program starting in October. A pilot project introducing eco-friendly menstrual cups has also been launched in two districts, Dakshina Kannada and Chamarajanagar. This initiative aims to eliminate the stigma around menstruation and promote environmental sustainability.
The Karnataka government is set to recommence the distribution of free sanitary pads to around 40 lakh girl students between the ages of 10 and 18 enrolled in schools and colleges across the state. This initiative is part of the Shuchi program and is scheduled to start in October.
Dinesh Gundu Rao, Karnataka’s Minister for Health and Family Welfare, announced this decision on September 11 during the launch of a pilot project that provides menstrual cups to pre-university students in government and government-aided colleges in Dakshina Kannada and Chamarajanagar districts.
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The distribution of sanitary pads under the Shuchi scheme had been discontinued by the previous government three years ago. The bidding process for selecting distributors is nearing completion, with ten applications received for the tender. The scheme is expected to cost the government Rs 20 crore.
The pilot project for distributing menstrual cups, an eco-friendly alternative, will provide 15,000 cups to students in the two districts. Dakshina Kannada will receive 11,500 cups, while Chamarajanagar will get 3,500 cups.
Minister Rao emphasized that menstruation should not be considered impure, and women should overcome self-imposed restrictions related to it. He noted that using menstrual cups can contribute to reducing environmental pollution.
The Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) Deputy Director, Dr Veena, mentioned that out of the 300 beneficiaries in the pilot project conducted earlier, 272 students accepted and began using menstrual cups after initial counselling and hesitation.
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Saptami Gowda, an actress known for her role in Kantara, is the brand ambassador for the Maithri menstrual cup program of the state government. She explained that these eco-friendly cups, made of medical-grade silicone, can be used for eight hours, are rash-free, and save women from the challenges of disposing of sanitary pads. Gowda also stressed the importance of women making the 'Shuchi Nanna Maithri' project a success.
UT Khader, Karnataka Legislative Assembly Speaker, highlighted that using menstrual cups also helps save money that would otherwise be spent on purchasing sanitary pads.