Women factory workers in the state of Meghalaya will be provided free sanitary napkins. The move comes after an amendment to the 40-year-old Factory Rules was okayed by the state cabinet today. As per the amendment, it is also mandatory for factories to provide personal protective equipment (PPEs) to all workers, a government spokesperson revealed.

James PK Sangma, state Cabinet Minister of Home, District Council Affairs, Food Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, Law, Power, told PTI, “After discussion, the proposal to amend rules 25 and 78 (C) of the Meghalaya Factories Rules, 1980 was approved at the cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Monday.” He further added, “The amendment was made after the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment had written to the State government to incorporate the Model Factories Rules regarding the provisions of sanitary napkins for the women workers under the Factories Act, 1948 and also to incorporate rules regarding the PPEs for all workers.”

According to the government spokesperson, the proposed amendment also incorporated clauses to ensure that the sanitary napkins of adequate quantity and conforming to Indian standards shall be provided and maintained in the women’s toilets. The pads will be replenished on a daily basis. Disposal bins will also be provided for the collection of the used napkins and they shall be properly disposed of as per procedures approved by the inspector.

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Earlier in August 2020, the Haryana government had announced that will provide free sanitary pads to about 22.50 lakh below poverty line women and girls — aged 10-45 every month, for a year. Back in 2018, it had launched a scheme under which sanitary napkin packets costing one rupee each were provided to girl students at government schools.

In the month of March, as the country went into the first phase of lockdown due to COVID-19, the central government invoked the Disaster Management Act 2005 and issued an official order about the measures to be taken by the central and state governments of India. The notice allowed the supply and availability of all the essential commodities to avoid hoarding and panic. However, there was no clarity on whether sanitary napkins were to be considered “essential” commodities or not.

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In order to offer clarity on this matter, Union Minister Smriti Irani has written in a tweet that sanitary napkins were listed as an essential commodity.”Taking note of the growing concern regarding the availability of sanitary napkins, Home Secretary to Government of India has issued a clarification to Chief Secretaries of all the states regarding Sanitary Pads being an essential commodity,” read Irani’s tweet on March 29. Read about it here.

Khushi Gupta is an intern at SheThePeople.TV.

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