Sanitary napkins, also known as pads or towels, are a necessity for women and girls during their menstrual cycle. However, high prices of branded sanitary napkins make them inaccessible for many women and girls, especially those from economically disadvantaged groups.
Ladies Sanitary Napkins – A Basic Necessity
For women, using sanitary napkins during their menstrual periods is not a luxury but a basic necessity. Menstruating without access to proper sanitation and hygiene facilities can lead to infections, reproductive problems and serious health complications. Yet, many women and girls in India cannot afford to buy branded sanitary napkins every month due to high prices.
According to a National Family Health Survey conducted in 2015-16, over 31% of women aged between 15 to 24 years in India use cloth during menstruation and only 8% use sanitary napkins. One of the key reasons is the high price of branded sanitary napkins which are priced between Rs.30 to Rs.150 per pack.
Sanitary Napkin Prices Unaffordable For Many
For women and girls who buy one or two packs of sanitary napkins every month, the cumulative cost amounts to Rs.360 – Rs.1,800 annually which is substantial for households with low and irregular incomes. Some of the expensive brands sell ultra-thin pads for Rs.70 per pack which is out of budget for many households where sanitary napkins are not considered an essential item of spending.
Effect Of High Prices On Health, Education And Livelihood
The high price of sanitary napkins adversely affects women and girls in several ways:
1. Health: Women who cannot afford branded napkins continue using unhygienic cloth which often leads to reproductive tract infections and other health issues.
2. Education: Adolescent girls, especially from economically weaker sections, miss school during their periods when they do not have access to sanitary napkins. This leads to dropouts and lower educational attainment.
3. Livelihood: Working women who cannot afford to buy sanitary napkins regularly are forced to compromise on hygiene which affects their productivity and income.
Governments And Brands Need To Make Ladies Sanitary Napkins
Governments and brands need to make ladies sanitary napkins more affordable through subsidy schemes, lower taxes, economy brands etc. to improve menstrual health and hygiene of underprivileged women and girls in India. Proper disposal facilities also need to be created at public places and workplaces.
With increased awareness and efforts from all stakeholders, the high prices of sanitary napkins can be brought down to reasonable levels ensuring that all women and girls can maintain proper hygiene during their periods without any financial constraints. Menstrual health and hygiene should be a basic human right and not a matter of affordability.