Bhopal Junction railway station has installed a sanitary napkin vending machine, becoming the first station in the country to do so. Named 'Happy Nari', it is an attempt at providing sanitary pads to women at an affordable price.
It was installed by Railway Women Welfare Association as a New Year gift to the women and was inaugurated by Anjali Thakur, the senior most woman working in the station. Talking about this initiative in an interview with NDTV, Shobhan Chaudhri, Bhopal’s Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) said,
When the plan was chalked out to install the machines, we studied several areas of menstrual hygiene and were shocked to know the low awareness levels especially among the rural women. We also found out in a local survey that the demand for sanitary napkins is huge in urban areas but due to the affordability issue they are forced to use other means that hamper their health.
Even on the first day, apart from women commuters, a lot of women from nearby slums also came for the sanitary pads which is priced at Rs 5 for two. So, within eight to nine hours since its inauguration, more than 600 pads were dispensed.
Motivated by this, the Bhopal railway authorities plan on installing more such vending machines in stations across the state. The machine has the capacity to carry 75 menstruation pads. Talking to The Times of India, Subodh Kulkarni, monitoring in-charge, said,
"This machine makes easy availability and accessibility of sanitary napkins for female passengers. Even before the inauguration, there were a few women who asked us for napkins. We helped them by giving it away from the stock. One of the passengers thanked us as her train was to leave the platform soon when she was in need."
Bhopal railway authorities also plan to install incinerators in waiting room's toilets to help manage the menstrual waste.
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