March 2019
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  Stree Swabhiman – An initiative for women’s health and hygiene

By Dr. Dinesh K. Tyagi, CEO-CSC SPV

Under the Stree Swabhiman initiative for women’s health and hygiene, women entrepreneurs have been emerging as champions of social change within their community

CSC SPV has launched “Stree Swabhiman” project for promoting women’s health and hygiene, especially in rural areas of the country. Under this project, sanitary napkin manufacturing units are being set up by CSCs across the country which are managed and operated by women VLEs. The initial capital required for setting up of the unit is borne by the VLE.  However, efforts are being made to organize donation from various organizations under CSR for helping the VLE to market and sell the product to girls and women in rural India.

Under the Stree Swabhiman initiative for women’s health and hygiene, women entrepreneurs have been emerging as champions of social change within their community. They are creating awareness and promoting the use of sanitary napkins. In addition to becoming a change agent, women VLEs are also providing local employment to 10-12 women in each sanitary napkin unit. CSC SPV proposes to set up one sanitary napkin unit in each block of the country thereby providing employment to about 100 thousand (one lakh) women in rural areas. This unique initiative, which empowers women both socially and otherwise, will significantly transform women’s health.

Stree Swabhiman has become a game changer for women’s empowerment, especially in rural India

Three common factors for low use of sanitary napkins especially in rural India by women are lack of awareness of hygiene, lack of access points for procurement and availability. Under this initiative, the VLE will distribute sanitary napkins by addressing all the three aspects, thus effecting a significant change in awareness and access to low cost sanitary napkins for girls/women in rural India.

In many States like Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand, the usage of sanitary napkins by women is below 50%.  Women VLEs in these States have a significant role to play in promoting the use of sanitary napkins and supporting health and hygiene for girls/women in rural India. The use of sanitary napkins will not only improve health and hygiene, thereby preventing rising incidences of cervical cancer among Indian women, but also increase the attendance/enrollment of girls in schools/colleges.

Stree Swabhiman has become a game changer for women’s empowerment, especially in rural India.  CSC women entrepreneurs have a great opportunity to play a significant part in this by associating themselves with the project. All women VLEs should, either individually or in groups, need to associate with this unique initiative within their block/district. About 1000 women VLEs have set up the units.

A number of VLEs has started setting up dispensing unit for sanitary pads in Girl School/ Colleges for promotion of creating awareness about women health and hygiene. The awareness about the use of sanitary napkins would enhance significantly thus creating a market for the VLE-operated  sanitary napkin units so as to make them sustainable. editor@ictpost.com