Kalyanmayee, the women’s wing of Airports Authority of India, has been successfully ensuring a healthy and hygienic environment for the benefit of the society
Menstruation is a common phenomena, which critically requires hygienic management. In India, only 58 per cent of women use hygienic menstrual products, and in rural India, the figures are at just 48.5 per cent . A substantial percentage of girls and women still rely on age-old practices for their menstrual cycle. With several myths surrounding menstrual hygiene, the use of unhygienic cloths that has been linked to microbial growth being indicative of infection, just makes it worse.
Educating and eliminating the unfamiliarity of the usage of napkins among girls and women is a primary step towards generating awareness for the same and Kalyanmayee, the women’s wing of the Airports Authority of India (AAI), has been effective in imparting this knowledge among girls and women. Accredited to carrying out various social, cultural and educational activities for society at large, Kalyanmayee is instrumental in lending a meaningful hand in planning and executing welfare activities, further ensuring peace, camaraderie and espirit de-corps. Kalyanmayee formally launched a three-year-long project in the field of women’s health – the Sanitary Napkin Usage and Menstrual Hygiene Project on December 5, 2018. The project highlights the usage of sanitary napkin and menstrual hygiene by organising awareness camps in slum areas in 20 airport cities and also takes up installation of sanitary napkin machines and incinerators in schools in lower income areas across the country.
The objective behind the project is to create awareness about menstrual hygiene and for young girls and women to take it as a normal process, without tweaking their routines during those days of the month. It helps provide alternative of low-cost, lab tested napkins as compared to the expensive ones available in the market by installing vending machines in schools in low-income areas and distributing free sanitary napkins in slum areas during awareness camps. As a part of the campaign, sanitary napkin vending machines have been installed to promote the usage. To tackle the issue of disposal, incinerators have been installed in select schools, spreading awareness about the appropriate means of napkin disposal.
Kalyanmayee has a target group of 1,200 females per location with a total number of 240 camps per year in 20 cities. As a part of the campaign, Kalyanmayee provides economical sanitary napkins to 24,000 ladies every year, and plans to achieve the target of 72,000 women at the end of the three-year-long project. A total of four awareness camps per year are organised in schools/community per city to aid the project. Every month, one awareness camp is arranged in 20 cities in different slum areas with a target group of 100 ladies.
The Sanitary Napkin Usage and Menstrual Hygiene Project is also responsible for imparting knowledge to all local Kalyanmayee units through video conferencing meetings in 20 selected cities for the implementation of the project. Other arrangements include:
- Project Coordinator is appointed in each of these cities to assist the local unit of the wing. Both operational and financial training are imparted to project coordinators and workers at the Kalyanmayee units for smooth implementation of the project.
- Suitable selection of vendors for providing vending machines, incinerators and sanitary napkins in all 20 cities is carried out vigilantly.
- Quality of sanitary napkins and machines is ensured on all parameters.
- Community awareness camps are conducted with the help of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO), local leaders, accredited social health activists (ASHA) and Anganwadi workers.
- Session on menstrual hygiene is conducted by experts in the camp.
- Free sanitary napkins are also distributed to beneficiaries in the camp.
- Schools/colleges are selected as per the criteria of Kalyanmayee units where underprivileged girls are trained.
ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Kalyanmayee has ensured placement of a small cupboard in each school for stocking of the sanitary napkins. A dedicated source is appointed/selected from each school to take charge for the same. Also, a nodal teacher is deputed by the principal of each school for the smooth functioning of the machine. Before handing over the responsibility, both dedicated resources are imparted proper training pertaining to the vending machine and incinerator. During the course, Kalyanmayee seeks weekly and monthly reports by the Project Coordinator of Operational and Finance Department. Appropriate hand holding and support is provided by Kalyanmayee, along with regular monitoring, to safeguard the quality and impact of the programme.
The project has already garnered a lot of recognition in a short span of time. While the project aims to organise 240 camps annually, the unit has organised 167 camps in different airport cities, covering a total of 18,452 beneficiaries already. A total of 60 vending machines and 60 incinerators have been installed, covering 60 schools with 40,265 beneficiaries. Apart from lab-tested sanitary napkins, three sets of inner wears are also distributed to girls as a part of the campaign. Out of the total 240 sessions planned for school awareness camps in 20 cities spanned across three years, till date 115 awareness sessions have been conducted, covering 34,432 beneficiaries.
Initiated with an aim of eradicating the stigma associated with menstrual hygiene, Kalyanmayee has embarked on this noble crusade to ensure that girls and women of all age groups understand the importance of menstrual hygiene.