India now has its first digital bank for sanitary napkins. Mumbai’s Versova MLA Dr. Bharati Lavekar took an initiative of launching the digital bank with an aim to provide sanitary pads to every woman and girl.

The bank will not only be restricted to city areas but will also reach out to the tribal areas as well.

Dr Bharati Lavekar who is an MLA of Versova constituency in Maharashtra is an award winning social worker. She works for underprivileged women and help then attain social and economic status. She also runs an NGO by the name TEE Foundation, aiming to tackle women issues like female foeticide, women education and health and sanitation.

TEE Foundation’s online portal will provide a platform for people to login to either donate pads or money to help those who are in need. The platform will donate pads as per the demand in a way to bridge gap between the donors and the needy.

“Donors can donate either money or sanitary pads. A packet of 10 pads cost seven rupees. The foundation will make sure it reaches those in need. We also have to overcome the taboo of menstruation,” said Lavekar.

Also Read: Why Should Sanitary Pads Be Taxed?

Dr Bharati mentions about how she as an MLA first tried to raise her voice in the Vidhan Sabha and seek government permission to use the MPLADS fund in spreading awareness and providing hygiene facilities to underprivileged women.

She says,” The government is already providing them pads free of cost for 10 months, excluding two months of vacations. But if rural schools register with us, we will provide pads for the other two months too.”

“We will also reach to every school in the village and talukas to give a menstrual kit which would contain 10 sanitary pads, painkillers, Dettol and a CD for their awareness of menstruation to every girl studying in the school. My aim is spread awareness and leave no girl and woman to suffer from unhygienic problems.” Lavekar added.

She also mentions about the sex ration which was very low in her district in the year 2011. She says,“ The sex ratio in Versova was 669 girls for 1000 boys during 2011 census. I was quite disheartened to know such facts. When I was chosen as MLA for Versova constituency I wanted to change the dynamics here. After doing surveys, we go to every house wherever a girl child is born and spread awareness. We educate girls and women about periods and how to manage in a healthy way which has now come out as a boon for all of us. Now there are almost 921 girls for 1000 boys.”

To tackle menstrual issues, the TEE foundation has undertaken many initiatives like free distribution of sanitary napkins to women and girls, installation of sanitary pad ATM’s and disposal machines.

“In India cervical cancer is the leading cause of deaths among females. In every eight minutes, one woman dies of cervical cancer in India. This is a huge concern. Only 15% women in India can afford to use sanitary napkins while 85% females use reusable cloth which is very unhygienic. I want to change this mind-set. Access to hygiene is the basic human right and through my efforts I want to spread awareness in every house and village and help women in their upliftment,” said Bharati.

The launch of the digital bank for sanitary napkins was inaugurated by Mrs Amruta Fadnavis, wife of CM Devendra Fadnavis and veteran actress Zeenat Aman.