Khushi scheme: Great initiative, poor implementation

City Education Health

Under the Khushi scheme, girls of government schools in the state are receiving fewer sanitary pads than promised.

Cuttack-:  Chandni, a 10th standard student of a government school in Cuttack, receives around six sanitary pads in a month under the Khushi scheme instead of 18 as scheduled in the scheme. She added that she has not received pads for the months when the school was closed due to the lockdown.

Aparna, another government school student, said, “The school used to give me five or fewer pads in a month. The sanitary napkin distribution is not uniform all the time. There  have been months when I haven’t received any.”  

The government schools do not receive sufficient sanitary napkins to distribute 18 pads to each girl. Sudhanshu Nanda, a teacher at a girl’s government school in Cuttack said that the school provides two to three sanitary napkins to each girl per month. She further added,  “We do not receive pads in such large numbers to provide  18 pads to each girl. We receive a certain amount of sanitary napkins in a month and we distribute that uniformly among all the girls.”

The state officials, however, believe that the scheme has been successfully implemented at all levels. An official of Odisha State Medical Corporation said that they sanction 18 sanitary napkins for each girl every month to the schools. She further said, “The process has not been stopped even now when the schools are closed. Like books are distributed from door to door, we have ensured that all the girls receive sanitary pads as well. We provide the girls 54 pads for three months at once.”

“The pandemic has however affected the number of pads being given. Only since last year,  it has decreased to half, ” the official added.

The schemes are announced, but the implementation of the schemes becomes a problem at the grass-root level. Linkan Subudhi, founder of Seva Prayas Foundation said that funds are distributed at the top level and there is a budget as well but the officials at the root level do not utilize the money effectively. Due to this, the scheme is put on hold and eventually gets cancelled. 

She further said that when multiple departments of government are involved in a scheme the lack of communication at different levels of these departments leads to improper implementation of it. 

Linkan added, “The scheme can provide a major boost to women empowerment in the state and can be properly implemented if the government forms a committee including people from the education and health departments and also different NGOs. The committee can then ensure that each girl receives the required number of sanitary napkins.”

The Khushi scheme was implemented by the Odisha government in 2018 to ensure menstrual hygiene and create awareness about using sanitary napkins among adolescent girls. Under this scheme, around 17 lakh girls studying from 6th to 12th standard in government and government-aided schools get 18 sanitary napkins each in a month, free of cost. 

In 2019, the Odisha government sanctioned Rs.466 crore for the scheme.