Attribute it to Akshay Kumar-starrer Pad Man’s influence that on February 28, Bihar’s Patna Junction would become the third railway station in the country after Bhopal and Pune to have automated sanitary pad vending machine installed.
This would be the first of its kind initiative by the East Central Railway (ECR) to promote women hygiene at all major railway stations where the footfall of passengers is abnormally high. According to railway figures, the Patna Junction witnesses monthly footfall of over 50 lakh passengers on normal days and over 80 lakh during peak seasons. The facility comes as a major boon for the scores of women passengers who face problems in the absence of sanitary pads with them during menstrual periods during their journeys.
The railways has assigned Nav Astitva Foundation (NAF), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) working on menstrual health and hygiene, to install the sanitary pad vending machine in the women washroom at Patna junction. The decision was taken at a meeting between NAF officials and Danapur divisional railway manager (DRM) RP Thakur.
“This is our first small effort to address a large issue. Soon, the facility will be extended to three other stations in the zone — Rajendra Nagar Terminal, Patna Sahib and Danapur junction,” ECR chief spokesperson Rajesh Kumar said.
Bihar is at the lowest echelon when it comes to adolescent girls adopting hygienic methods for menstrual protection. Against a national average of 57%, only 31.3% young women in the 15-24 age group use hygienic methods, according to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-IV.
Among the districts of Bihar, Sitamarhi has the worst record with only 15.7% using hygienic methods for menstrual protection, followed by Araria (17.4%), Kishanganj (19.9%), Sheohar (20.6%), Purnia (21.2%), East Champaran (21.6%), Saharsa (21.7%), Madhepura (22.8%), Arwal (23.5%), Siwan (25.7%), Samastipur and Gopalganj (25.9), Sheikhpura (26.1%), Supaul (26.3%), Banka (27.9), Lakhisarai (28%), Begusarai (29.3%) and Katihar (29.8%). State capital Patna topped with 56.8%, as per the NFHS-IV data.
Pallavi Sinha, chairperson of Nav Astitva Foundation, said the automated sanitary vending machine would be dedicated to women travellers on February 28. It would have a capacity of vending at least 120 pads per day at Rs 5 each, she said.
“Earlier, we installed an automated pad vending machine at JD Women’s College in Patna,” said Sinha. On March 8, on the occasion of International Women’s Day, a similar machine would be installed at the Patna airport.
“An incinerator would also be attached with the machine for the disposal of used napkins. At Patna junction, the incinerator would be installed later,” Sinha said.
Amrita Singh, secretary said the NGO was planning to install similar vending machines in washrooms at petrol pumps on national highways across Bihar.
source: Rajesh Kumar Thakur- HT