Why this is a milestone for Indian women


A total of 5,000 menstrual cups will be distributed to women aged 18 and above in the village as part of the Avalkayi (for her) scheme

Image used for representational purposes only. Image Courtesy: Pixabay

A village in Kerala is being hailed for becoming the first-ever sanitary napkin-free village in the country.

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan on Thursday declared Kumbalangi in Ernakulam district as the first napkin-free village in the country.

Let’s take a look at why this is such a milestone and how it will benefit women.

Kumbalangi opts for the ‘cup’ route

Under the initiative, titled Avalkayi (for her), around 5,000 menstrual cups will be distributed to women aged 18 and above.

While Ernakulam MP Hibi Eden will be leading the project, HLL Management Academy through their ‘Thingal‘ scheme and Indian Oil Corporation are the other partners in the scheme.

Organisers of the campaign said that volunteers will give the women training on the use and advantages of using the menstrual cup.

“Beautiful village Kumbalangi will be a role model for others. Schemes like this will empower women. If villages prosper, our country will prosper,” the governor was quoted as saying in his inaugural address.

Eden, as per a Hindustan Times report, said the latest initiative will help reduce pollution caused by synthetic napkins and ensure personal hygiene to working women and students. He said many people, including actor Parvathi, have helped him to carry out the project.

“We have installed napkin-vending machines in many schools but often they created problems. Then this idea came up and we studied it in detail and sought expert advice. Experts said the cup can be re-used for many years and it is more hygienic,” the parliamentarian was quoted as saying.

Benefits of a menstrual cup

Menstrual cups, while being around for very long, have gained popularity in recent times.

They are made of medical-grade silicone, rubber, or plastic and are usually reusable, which makes them a better option over sanitary pads or tampons.

Menstrual cups are also cost-effective and environment-friendly compared to different menstrual products, making them a better option.

According to a report in The Conversation, the menstrual cup is by far the best based on all environmental metrics.

Based on the total impact score, the sanitary pad had the highest score, indicating higher impacts. The tampon had a 40 percent lower score and the menstrual cup 99.6 percent lower. The key factor for the high score for the pad was its greater weight and the manufacture of the raw materials to make it.

A Lancet study states that there are 199 brands of menstrual cups available in 99 countries but awareness is low.

Titled ‘Menstrual cup use, leakage, acceptability, safety, and availability: a systematic review and meta-analysis’, the study summarised preliminary evidence on the cost and waste savings associated with using menstrual cups suggested that over 10 years, a single menstrual cup could cost much less than pads or tampons.

Moreover, a joint report by Water Aid India and the Menstrual Hygiene Alliance of India stated that depending on the materials used in the manufacture of the sanitary pads, it could take up to 800 years to decompose a single sanitary napkin.

Menstrual health in India

Menstruation is considered a taboo topic and is dubbed as unclean and dirty in most parts of rural India.

However, things are changing slowly. Data from the National Family Health Survey has shown that menstrual hygiene has improved between 2015-16 and 2019-21.

Data shows that in rural areas, the proportion of women, aged 15-24 years, who use hygienic methods of protection (locally prepared napkins, sanitary napkins, tampons and menstrual cups) during their menstrual period, increased by 24.1 percentage points from 48.2 percent in 2015-16 to 72.3 percent in 2019-21.

In the urban areas, the use of menstrual devices also went up from 77.5 percent in 2015-16 to 89.4 percent in 2019-2021.

With inputs from agencies

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