Mechanized Solution To a Women's Hygiene Problem
Sanitary napkin vending machine
The new sanitary napkin vending machine improves women’s hygiene and tackles associated school and college absenteeism too.
On International Women’s Day, Bengaluru-headquarted Art of Living Foundation delivered the first batch of 50 low-cost sanitary napkin vending machines in schools in Latur in Maharashtra, thus empowering women in rural India through an unique and effective double-barrel approach to improved hygiene for women and also lowering of school absenteeism due to monthly menstrual cycle.
The new and locally developed sanitary napkin vending machine priced at just Rs 4000 each have already been installed in 50 educational institutions in Latur and the project team on ground in Latur are confident of covering the whole of Maharashtra with this new initiative by next International Women’s Day.
This first major step towards providing easy-to-access sanitary napkins to girl students in the country comes nearly 3 years after the central government had mandated it back in 2014 said Art of Living Volunteer and project head Makarand Jhadav.
Schools and colleges were unable to implement this essential sanitation facility for their girl-students mainly because, the cost of vending machine available in the market ranged from Rs 14,000 – 28000/-We managed to source parts locally and build such vending machines made of wood and steel that can be operated without electricity or any electronic parts for less than a third of that cost, said Jhadav. .
This new machine dispenses one napkin at a time by inserting a five rupee coin followed by two turns of a lever-wheel, thus making it suitable for use even in parts of India that do not have electricity.
Measuring just one and half feet by one foot the vending machine takes very little space and can be installed in two minutes said Jhadav, a local civil engineer who has been a full time volunteer with Art of Living since 2001. Each machine can hold up to 23 pads and can be refilled in less than two hours through a phone call to the number provided on the machine.
Latur has for long been known for producing some of the brightest kids due to its excellent educational institutions. Now it has made its mark in another crucial area by taking the lead in girl-students’ hygiene in the country, said Jhadav.
The word of this wonder machine is already spreading fast across the state.“We have been getting calls from all over the state since we installed the first batch of 50 machine on March 8".
Jhadav believes that this basic yet essential facility is also likely to have an impact on reducing girls drop-out caused by absenteeism during monthly menstrual cycle in schools and higher education institutions in the country. “When monthly cycle starts while the girls are in school or college, they are faced with an uneasy feeling and not able to rush to a medical store for napkins. This, we believe, will definitely have an impact on their education in the long term,”Jhadav said.