1.6 crore sanitary pads sold at subsidised rates under Asmita Yojana: Maharashtra govt to HC
The Maharashtra government on Friday informed the Bombay high court (HC) that 19,78,140 packets containing more than 1.6 crore sanitary pads have been sold until now through 29,875 self-help groups at highly subsidised rates to adolescent girls studying in zilla parishad schools as well as rural women across the state since the launch of the Asmita Yojana in 2018.
The government, in an affidavit, said that the Asmita Yojana has been designed and implemented through women self-help groups with the objective to ensure accessibility and availability of affordable sanitary pads across rural Maharashtra. Under the scheme, a pack of eight napkins is being sold to adolescent school girls for ₹5 and to rural women for ₹24.
The affidavit was filed in reply to a public interest litigation (PIL) jointly filed by law graduate Nikita Gore, who is working as a research assistant at the Aurangabad bench of the HC, and law student Vaishnavi Gholave. The duo sought an order to declare sanitary napkins as an essential commodity and start its distribution through the public distribution system, along with other essential commodities.
In the PIL filed through advocate Vinod Sangvikar, the petitioners have highlighted the need to easy access to sanitary napkins as women cannot predict when menstruation will start. It further stated that the supply of sanitary pads should also be made accessible at schools and workplaces.
The PIL has also stated that hygienic menstrual absorbents help adolescent girls and women to “manage menstruation effectively, safely, comfortably and fearlessly” and increases their attendance at school or at workplace during menstruation.
The petitioners have asserted that sanitary napkins are essential requirement of every woman and women have right to get them at cheaper rate as on an average every woman spends about 3,000 days of her life menstruating and the lack of cleanliness during this period may lead to infections.
Therefore, they have also sought proper implementation of the national guidelines for menstrual hygiene management issued in 2015 by the Union ministry of drinking water and sanitation.
The bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice Sarang Kotwal on Friday adjourned the PIL for three weeks after a counsel for central government sought time to file an affidavit in response to the petition.