1. Bahini Scheme

  • GS Paper – 1 Issues Related to Women, Social Empowerment, Gender.

Why is it in the news?

  • The government of Sikkim is about to unveil a plan (Bahini) that would see vending machines installed to offer free sanitary pads to women.
  • This is the first time that a state government has made the choice to provide coverage to all girls in Grades 9-12 in the state.

What is the Scheme’s overall goal and mission?

  • Specifically, it intends to provide “100 percent access to free and safe sanitary pads to female students enrolled in secondary and senior secondary schools.
  • It also aims to reduce the number of girls dropping out of school and to improve knowledge about menstruation hygiene among young women.
  • In 2018, the state government, in partnership with Sulabh International, conducted an experiment in which vending machines were put in a number of schools. The plan is based on that trial.
  • Sulabh International is a social service organisation founded in India that strives to promote human rights, environmental cleanliness, non-conventional sources of energy, waste management, and social changes through educating the public.

The Status of Menstrual Health in India: What is the Situation?


  • Approximately 355 million women in India had menstrual periods, according to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) 2015-16.
  • However, just 36% of women claimed that they used sanitary napkins, whether they were made locally or purchased commercially.
  • According to the first phase of the National Family Health Survey-5, which was just released, the percentage of women who use menstruation products has increased dramatically across the nation, particularly in Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli, West Bengal, and Bihar.
  • However, period health remains a low-priority problem in India, marked by taboos, shame, and a lack of knowledge about the topic, as well as limited access to sanitary facilities and menstrual products.


Restrictions imposed by society:

  • Women’s rights to health, equality, and privacy are violated when they are subjected to societal constraints during menstruation.
  • Several accounts indicate that women and girls are kept in seclusion during menstruation, and are not permitted to visit holy buildings or kitchens, to play outside, or even to attend school at this time.

Dropout from school:

  • According to a study done by the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD) in 2018-19 as part of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) plan, more than one-fourth of all girls enrolled in classes VI-VIII drop out of school as soon as they reach puberty.

Access to education is not consistent:

  • Menstruation is a challenging event for young girls, made much more difficult by the lack of continuous access to information about menstrual health and puberty.

Participation in the labour force has been reduced:

  • Many companies consider menstruation women to be a problem because they link periods with inefficiency at work and diminished engagement in the labour, among other things.
  • There have been anecdotal reports of corporate companies being insensitive to menstruation women because they are concerned about losing productivity.

Initiatives that are related:

Government at the national level:

  • During the 2015 legislative session, the federal government issued nationwide standards for menstrual hygiene management.
  • Women’s health initiatives such as the Menstrual Hygiene Scheme (2011) and the Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (2014) have been introduced to improve menstrual hygiene among teenage girls between the ages of 10 and 19.
  • More than 5 million brand sanitary pads were provided at a cost of one rupee through the Suvidha project, which was implemented through 6,000 Jan Aushadhi Kendras.

Government of the State:

  • In addition to federal government initiatives, state governments in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala have developed programmes to provide sanitary pads in schools, as well as programmes in other states.
  • Under the Kishori Swasthya Yojana, the Bihar government grants Rs 300 to teenage girls in order for them to purchase sanitary pads.

The Best Way Forward

  • Investing in a plan that brings together important government agencies — including health, education, women’s and children’s empowerment, agriculture and rural development — and enhances accountability for concerns connected to menstrual health management is essential at this time.
  • The best way forward is through a community-based strategy in which local influencers and decision-makers are educated about the issue and behavioural change initiatives targeting both men and women are implemented to debunk myths and misconceptions about the issue.
  • In addition, there is a tremendous opportunity to establish public-private partnerships to drive such programmes and boost access to cheap menstrual hygiene products in rural and semi-urban areas.
  • Installation of sanitary pad selling machines in prominent public spaces, such as workplaces, schools, and universities, as well as Anganwadi centres or childcare centres in rural regions, might help to achieve this goal.
  • It is critical to recognise that menstruation health is not only a female health issue, but also a human rights one.


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