Maharashtra’s government has introduced the ASMITA Yojana, which provides rural women in the state with subsidised sanitary napkins.
The scheme was introduced by Pankaja Munde, Minister of rural development and women and children development.
This programme is for rural women and adolescent girls between the ages of 11 and 19 years old who attend Zilla Parishad school. A bundle of eight sanitary napkins would be offered at a discounted rate of Rs 5 to adolescent females. A subsidy of Rs 15.20 per package is available.
The Asmita Yojana is designed and operated by women self-help organisations with the goal of ensuring access to and availability of affordable sanitary pads in rural Maharashtra. A pack of eight napkins costs Rs.5 for adolescent schoolgirls and Rs.24 for rural women under the scheme.
Why is Asmita Yojana Significant?
Sanitary napkins are a vital requirement for every woman, and women have the right to have them at a lower cost because, on average, a woman spends around 3,000 days of her life menstruating, and infection might result from a lack of hygiene during this time.
Access to subsidised sanitary napkins will help women to store some napkins in their possession so that they would be ready for unpredictable menstruation.
Sanitary Napkins as essential Commodities:
A public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Nikita Gore, a law graduate who works as a research assistant at the HC’s Aurangabad bench, and Vaishnavi Gholave, a law student had requested that sanitary napkins be declared an essential product and distributed through the public distribution system with other basic commodities.
Answer to this PIL, the Maharashtra government had informed the Bombay high court that during 2018 and 2020, 1.6 crore sanitary pads had been sold at a highly subsidised price through self-help groups under the Asmita Yojana.
Another PIL filed by advocate Vinod Sangvikar pointed out that sanitary napkins should be provided to schools and workplaces. He mentioned that sanitary napkins help adolescent girls increase their attendance at the workplace or school during menstruation.
The Asmita Yojana is helping women to maintain hygiene during menstruation at an affordable price which is a learning lesson to the state governments. However, the bad quality of the sanitary napkins under this scheme is also brought to notice by some women, nevertheless, the Asmita Yojana is a torchbearer to many governments that are not interested in even spending the allotted money for women.