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Meet Padwoman of India — Dr Bharati Lavekar

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You may have seen hindi movie “padman” in which the main protagonist, Akshay Kumar goes out of his way to make women aware about the use of sanitary pads. Despite facing huge flak from all sections of the society, Kumar went ahead and changed perceptions of both men and women towards menstruation in the movie.

A Maharashtra MLA, Dr Bharati Lavekar has taken a similar initiative. In a bid to ensure cheap and best sanitary pads to women from the underprivileged sections of the society, she recently launched ‘Tee Foundation Sanitary Pad Bank.”

An MLA from Versova, Lavekar has been educating women about the importance of sanitary napkins. The initiative promotes menstrual hygiene and easy accessibility of sanitary pads available to the underprivileged women.

The foundation has been granted an automatic sanitary pad vending machine, disposal machine and a menstrual health kit, containing painkillers, pack of undergarment, and literature on how to care for oneself during menstruation as well as how the perceptions of both men and women towards menstruation need a change.

Talking about the initiative, Dr Bharati Lavekar on World Menstrual Day (May 28) said: “When I paid a visit to my constituency to see if woman use pads, I observed that the majority of them were using cloth instead of napkins, due to social stigma which can lead to many life-threatening infections and it’s essential for women to maintain menstrual hygiene. Hence, it made me think of launching the digital Sanitary Napkin Bank for provisioning sanitary pads online to women.”

Apart from this she also emphasized on period leave, wherein she advised that schools, colleges and workplace should grant period leaves to students and employees. She also talked about disposable machines which have been set up in schools and public toilets by her foundation.

According to statistics in India, only 15 percent women get access to pads, because they either cannot afford them or lack awareness. As many as 70 percent women think menstrual blood is unhygienic and 66 percent girls and women manage periods without toilets, she added.

Over 85 per cent of women, who menstruate, use unsafe materials. They resort to traditional unhygienic practices like cloth, ashes, husk, sand and leaves. Over 23 percent girls drop out of school completely after reaching puberty.

All these facts have major repercussions, which we need to change through innovative solutions and awareness.

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