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A Commendable Step

by damith
March 25, 2024 1:00 am 0 comment

No one can go against Mother Nature. Women have been created with a womb in order to perpetuate the human race. Women can prevent child birth if they wish but they cannot prevent menstruation. Menstruation can only be delayed for a short time for medical reasons and some other essential reasons with Consultants’ guidance and prescribed medications.

Last week Education Minister Susil Premajayantha said in Parliament that the programme of providing sanitary napkins to schoolgirls for free of charge will be started from April this year.

Accordingly, the Education Ministry is planning to provide free sanitary napkins to approximately 800,000 schoolgirls above Grade Six. The Minister also said that vouchers will be issued for this purpose.

Last year (2023), the Ministry announced that sanitary napkins will be given to 300,000 girls as a pilot project, and that around one million schoolgirls will be given sanitary napkins subsequently.

Puberty is the process of physical maturation where an adolescent reaches sexual maturity and becomes capable of reproduction. On average, puberty typically begins between ages 8 and 13 in females (in between when they are in Grade Four and Eight in schools). Menstruation, or period, is normal vaginal bleeding that occurs as part of a woman’s monthly cycle.

Every month, her body prepares for pregnancy. If no pregnancy occurs, the uterus, or womb, sheds its lining. The menstrual blood is partly blood and partly tissue from inside the uterus.

When considering scientific facts, it is suitable to offer this valuable service of providing vouchers to all schoolgirls who attained puberty and not to all those above grade six. This is because there may be school girls in Grade Four, Five or Six who need sanitary napkins because they have already attained puberty and maybe there are others in Grade Seven or Eight who do not need sanitary napkins because they have not attained puberty yet.

According to Consultants, this is the normal condition of female human bodies. It is because attaining puberty depends on many scientific factors and this is why some girls attain puberty early and some others attain puberty late. But the latest trend that can be witnessed is schoolgirls attaining puberty early.

The step that will be taken by the Education Ministry is highly admirable because it relieves the economic hardships of all families with young daughters. It is extremely hard for the parents to purchase items such as sanitary napkins for their young daughters because their current income is not sufficient even to feed them with nutritious food and provide them with other essential items such as medicine, clothing, school books etc. Personal hygiene is a must when it comes to all human beings, especially females.

At the same time no one can accept how some called the Opposition Leader ‘the pad man’ when he raised this issue a few years ago. It is because it was humiliating to both the Opposition Leader and all Sri Lankan women and young schoolgirls who use sanitary napkins. It can be simply called male chauvinism that does not suit current standards of human dignity or the cultural and religious values of Sri Lanka. We call our mother ‘Gedara Budun’ and she is of course a woman.

There is another important factor that needs to be mentioned in connection with this topic. It is the use of homemade sanitary napkins. They are made of hundred percent cotton, ordinary used or new clothes. Even a simple 100 percent cotton handloom serviette can be easily turned into a homemade sanitary napkin without much effort that is healthier and more comfortable than artificial sanitary napkins and they are reusable and long lasting. This type of sanitary napkin can be used when schoolgirls are at home during holidays and school vacations. This factor can be considered by the Education Ministry to save money while implementing this valuable programme.

No one can criticize the use of homemade sanitary napkins by schoolgirls because nothing happened to any Sri Lankan woman in the past who used those homemade sanitary napkins and they are the healthy mothers of the past and present generations. The best part is, it saves money. Using homemade sanitary napkins and changing them often protects health but using the same artificial sanitary napkin that was bought from a shop for longer hours could harm one’s health. What matters is personal hygiene.

One last thing needs to be mentioned before completing the discussion about the topic. That is the importance of educating young schoolgirls on personal hygiene while trying to give them sex education. Anyway both subjects are on the same set of body organs – the reproductive system. Therefore scientific knowledge should be given to them in order to protect their bodies from all types of threats. Educated, talented and creative scholars can produce educational materials which can protect young schoolgirls’ health as well as their dignity. It is a magic that Sri Lanka is yet to experience. Why do scholars and specialists not see the direct connection that exists between protecting dignity and health? This issue has to be explored in-depth by our education and health communities.

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