Subsidize commercial sanitary napkins during lockdown and ensure seamless availability

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My name is Sanjina Gupta and I am starting this petition to bring to your attention the need to make commercial sanitary napkins available in West Bengal at a subsidized rate during the lockdown period and till after a few days of lifting lockdown.
While our government is making bio-degradable pads available at Jan Aushadhi Centres at subisidized rates, a greater percentage of women in urban as well as rural Bengal use commercial brands like whisper, stayfree etc. Given the financial hit that daily wage workers and other low income groups are facing, buying food items take precedence over accessing menstrual products. A woman's menstrual health attracts is the least priority in most household, however women will continue to experience menstruation even in lockdown. With women's mobility is adversely affected as well where they cannot go travel much to access their menstrual products. With all manufacturers and suppliers (private) running their operations with lesser man power, continuous and smooth supply of sanitary napkins is getting hindered. Also given the fact that a lot of families are having to experience a financially challenging time, buying commercial brands of sanitary napkins for the women in the house appear to be a luxury for many households

Women from lower middle-class families are also facing a challenge where they are having to choose between either accessing sanitary napkins, and even if they can access, the higher prices of commercial sanitary napkins acts as a challenge because the family would rather buy groceries and other medicines over menstrual products.

As per the recent addendum released by the Central Home Secretary in addition to the Order passed to implement lockdown measures under the Disaster Management Act,2005, Sanitary Napkins is covered under the broad heading of in 'Groceries', [dated: 29th March,2020, DO no. 40-3/2020-DM-I(A)] and it clearly mentions Sanitary Napkin is an essential product. Honestly, it is a much needed initiative which curbed a lot of confusion among us citizens. However, as an additional measure we need to ensure that young girls and women get to access the products and they don't face a situation where they have to choose food over sanitary napkins.

As a menstrual health educator, I have been working with young women and girls across urban and rural spaces for a long time, and it is on all of their behalf that I am urging West Bengal Government and Commercial Sanitary Pads Manufacturer Procter and Gamble (Whisper Napkins) and Johnson & Johnson (Stayfree Napkins) you to look into this matter immediately to facilitate immediate subsidization of sanitary napkins produced by commercial brands like Whisper, Stayfree, Sofy etc and ensure seamless supply of the same at all pharmacies, general grocery stores, local ICDS centres and/or Public Distribution System (Fair Price Shops) at this earliest.

I have already sent individual letters to all the department of health and family welfare, finance department, state ministry of women and child development and state home secretary, West Bengal. I want this petition to simultaneously to act as a pressure on the government to take my request into consideration and ensure affordable access to menstrual products for women and young girls in the time of lockdown.

#BattleAgainstCovid #BleedingInTheTimeOfPandemic #PeriodPovertyInLockdown #UnlockAccessInLockdown #BleedFreelyInLockdown