KRISHNAGIRI (Tamil Nadu): Even in the crucial 10th standard, Malini (not the real name) used to stay away from school at least three days a month. So did about 150 other students of the Mekalachinnampalli rural girls’ high school, 10 km from Krishnagiri in Tamil Nadu, during their menstrual periods. Today however, the school registers no absenteeism, as the girls walk up to a sanitary vending machine, get a napkin for Rs2 and confidently walk into the classrooms.
A silent ‘sanitation revolution’ is sweeping Krishnagiri, among the most backward districts in the country, as a Unicef-supported programme aims at making sanitary napkins available to 90,000 adolescent girls through vending machines and special counters in schools. Experts say this simple step will have long-reaching benefits in a district with high infant mortality rate, maternal mortality rate and gynaecological problems linked to poor menstrual hygiene.