Kumbalangi, in Kerala is set to become the first sanitary napkin free village in India. Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan announced the achievement of the scheme on Thursday.
Even in the 21st century when a biological phenomenon like menstruation is considered a ‘taboo’ in India and the women are imprisoned by social conditioning, the concern regarding menstrual hygiene is still rare among many women.
But the recent success of a pioneering scheme of making women aware of menstrual cups instead of sanitary pads in a village of Kerala indeed shows a surge in the menstruation awareness graph.
Kumbalangi Credited as First Model Village
Kumbalangi has already been credited with the title of the first model village developed as part of the Prime Minister’s Sansad Adarsh Grama Yojana. In 2003, Kumbalangi, situated in Ernakulam district, was selected to be a part of the model village project.
A ring of Chinese fishing nets and fishing activities of this place are the major attractions for tourists. Along with the developments in various sectors, the project of eco-friendly menstrual hygiene is groundbreaking. “Beautiful village Kumbalangi will be a role model for others. Schemes like this will empower women. If villages prosper, our country will prosper,” said the governor.
The Project is a Part of the ‘Avalkayi’ Campaign
The project is a part of the ‘Avalkayi’ (for her) campaign, under the Pradhan Mantri Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, partnered with HLL Life Care Limited and Indian Oil Corporation. The campaign targeted at educating the women about the facts of the menstrual cup giving them proper training on its usage. Over 5000 cups were distributed to women aged 18 and above. The initiator of this project, MP Hibi Eden said, “We have to change with the times. After Kumbalangi, we will distribute them in coastal areas of Kochi and give training.”
Menstrual Cup: The Most Eco-friendly, Accessible and Safest Menstrual Care Product
A normal sanitary napkin and even a tampon contain the element of plastic that when exposed to the environment contaminates soil, air and water. The lack of knowledge about its proper disposal technique has been a matter of concern to date. Again, the daily cost of a napkin during a period is still a luxury for many poor women across the country. Whereas a single silicone-based menstrual cup with durability of about 10 years is the most environment-friendly and accessible option. According to experts, the cup is more hygienic too. Thus, dispelling the myths and fears the use of menstrual cups will widen the way of sustainable menstruation.
Less Than 20 % of Indian Women use Sanitary Napkins, Pandemic Worsened the Status
Chetna Soni, category leader of P&G Feminine Care, revealed “out of a total of 40 crore menstruating women in India, less than 20% use sanitary pads. In urban areas, this number only goes up to 52%.”
Albeit, according to the National Family Health Survey-4 (NFHS), released in 2015-16, in Kerala 92% of women used proper hygienic methods of menstrual protection. However, during the pandemic, many women across the country left purchasing sanitary pads and went back to cloth. Meanwhile, the menstrual cup “is an economically viable and environment-friendly option for women which needs exposure,” claimed MP Hibi Eden.