Giggles, smiles welcome volunteers distributing sanitary pads in Mohali
Giggles and shy smiles welcomed the volunteers of an NGO and Punjab police personnel who went door-to-door distributing sanitary napkins in Mohali colonies.
In consideration of women’s menstrual health, Punjab Police started distributing free sanitary pads to women who cannot move out owing to the curfew imposed to contain the epidemic.
For this endeavour, the NGO and Punjab police had primarily chosen colonies in Jagatpura which have been sealed owing to Covid 19 cases, Amb Sahib Colony, Ambedkar Colony and Azadpur Colony in Balongi in Mohali.
“We had started using cloth when we couldn’t get sanitary pads. The problem was not just getting the pads, but also of disposing them,” said Santosh Rani, resident of Amb Sahib Colony and working as domestic help. She and her two daughters had resorted to using cloth as they couldn’t leave home to buy pads.
“My father has been without work for more than a month now, so we’re saving every penny we have as we don’t know when this will end. How can I ask them to buy me pads?” said a 15-year old from Azadpur colony, not willing to be named. Her father, a driver, has been without work due to the curfew.
“The women would pick the packets with a shy smile or giggle and cover them with their pallu and run back into the house,” said Gaurav Gaur, NSS, program officer, Panjab University, who, too, was part of the project. He said so far they have distributed about 1,400 packets of sanitary towels.
“Initially people thought we were there to distribute gloves or masks. We had to make announcements that only women should come forward. They hesitated initially, but after sometime it didn’t matter whether the persons distributing pads was a male or a female,” Gaur added.
Manjula Sularia, director of Prasanchetas Foundation, working on menstrual hygiene, said that when they reached out to the men and told them what they were distributing, they were pleasantly surprised. “In fact, it was the men who helped volunteers and cops to identify houses where women lived. There is huge demand for pads, as from one small room, we would see about 5 to 6 women emerging to collect the packets,” Sularia said.
Punjab Police have distributed free sanitary pads as part of the #SheFirst campaign by Paree, a sanitary napkin brand. Sahil Dharia, founder and CEO of Paree, “We tied up with local enforcement agencies to reach out to women. In fact, the women are more than forthcoming in asking for sanitary pads, and did not shy away as we had anticipated.”
“People were surprised to see Punjab police personnel knocking at doors to distribute sanitary napkins. No doubt people hesitated but women were forthcoming and demanded more packets. This shows how people living in slums have also started believing in the importance of menstrual hygiene,” said Gurpreet Deo, additional director general of police, community affairs division, Punjab. She added that in places such as Jagatpura, which are sealed due to Covid cases, police teams helped in drawing people out of their homes, while ensuring social distancing was maintained.