Did you know, as per a UNICEF study conducted in 2015, half of the adolescents in Sri Lanka weren’t keen on or weren’t allowed to go to school while menstruating, while 37 per cent ended up missing miss one or two school days each month owing to pain and discomfort. It has also been reported that of the 4.2 million menstruating women, only 30 per cent use sanitary napkins (SAARC Chamber Women Entrepreneurs Council).
Now, Sri Lankan government has declared that it would provide free pads to over 8 lakh school girls. These pads will also be locally made. The priority for distribution would be children residing in poorer areas. The authorities also plan on building toilet facilities in 2,500 schools.
Picture for representational purpose only. Source- Shutterstock
The move was welcomed by several women’s organisations like Arka Initiative, that have fought for the cause relentlessly over the years
"It’s a great step, depending on how we implement it. I recently talked to 10 girls from the village. Five of them have never used sanitary towels. They use old clothes.” Nayanathara Jayathilaka, a student social worker from Galkiriyagama, a village 100 miles from the capital, Colombo told The Guardian. “The Ministry of Education can work with healthcare workers, social workers, and civil society organisations to conduct education programs to bust stigma, and teach period hygiene,” Jayathilaka added.
In the past, Sri Lanka has made an active effort to eradicate period poverty by reducing the tax on sanitary pads from 101.2 percent to 30 percent, subsidising ‘Sindhu’, a locally produced low-cost sanitary product funded by the SAARC Chamber Women Entrepreneurs Council (SCWEC). This organic pad sells in Sri Lanka at a third of the cost of competitors.