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The BJP has promised sanitary napkins for Re 1 to all women and girls across India in its manifesto. This is part of the manifesto focussed on providing reproductive and menstrual health for women. “With the expansion of ongoing Suvidha scheme, sanitary pads at an affordable cost of just Rs 1 will be provided to all girls and women.”

The government has been under tremendous pressure by activist groups seeking a slash in sanitary napkin taxes to make them affordable. GST Council finally had to exempt sanitary napkins from the tax after months of outrage from women all over the country over the government’s decision to levy a 12% charge on the essential commodity.

MP talks period Scottish House
Sanitary pads (Pic by STP)

Suvidha scheme was launched in March 2018 – to offer 100% Oxo-biodegradable Sanitary Napkin, under the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP). The affordable sanitary napkin were made available for Rs. 2.50 per pad at over 3200 Janaushadhi Kendrasacross India and would ensure ‘Swachhta, Swasthya and Suvidha’ for the underprivileged Women of India, it had said in its release.

With this new announcement, the government is saying it will lower the price of the sanitary pad offered. According to the National Family Health Survey 2015-16, about 58 percent of women aged between 15 to 24 years use locally prepared napkins, sanitary napkins and tampons. Further, about 78 percent women in urban areas use hygienic methods of protection during menstrual period; only 48 percent women in rural areas have access to clean sanitary napkins.

Shri Ananthkumar had then said in March 2018 that “this is one of the most important requirement in ensuring the Health Security to that section of Women in India who still use unhygienic aids during menstrual period due to non-affordability of some of the popular brands of sanitary napkins available in the market.”

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