Free sanitary pads to improve hygiene

Providing free sanitary pads has helped improve hygiene, boost confidence and improve attendance of girl students in Zhemgang Central School.

Previously some students relied on absorbent cloth during their periods, which not only was uncomfortable but awkward to change and clean.

The sanitary pads are made in the school itself and the pad production machine is operated by the girls themselves.

“The girls also often find cloth not sufficiently absorbent and difficult to secure in their underwear, or to change and clean,” said matron Sonam Wangmo, “I am happy today that every girl student now has access to free sanitary pad.”

The school has 170 girls staying in hostel. Some of the girls said the introduction of sanitary pads has improved hygiene and class attendance.

Previous studies have found that menstruation is viewed widely in as embarrassing, shameful and dirty. Being unable to stay clean is one of the main reasons why girls stay away from their lessons.

Matron Sonam Wangmo said that many girls don’t know about periods before they encounter their first one in school. “Just by giving girls lessons in puberty or a sanitary pad means they were more likely to stay at school during their periods, minimizing the risk of disruption to their schooling,” she said.

Simple interventions like sanitary pads have major long-term economic implications for women in low and middle income parents, which socially empowers them, matron Sonam Wangmo said.

A student, Raksha Gurung, said that now don’t have to go to shops to buy pads. “We can save money for other needs,” she said.

Chogyel Dolkhar a class 10 said, “It is more comfortable than what we buy from shops”. She added that they don’t have to worry about menstruation related problems being at hostel.

The school has proper disposal of used pads.

The school is planning to supply to other schools in the dzongkhag once production settles at its optimum capacity.

The Empathy Foundation provided the sanitary pad processing machine and raw materials for free. The project is supported by Sugal and Damani from India.

The education ministry aims to provide safe sanitary pads to every school-going girl.

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