Students are missing classes as schools fail to distribute sanitary padsIn May 2019, President Bidya Devi Bhandari had announced that sanitary pads would be distributed to girls in community schools for free from the beginning of the current fiscal year.
“I hurry home when my period starts because there are no sanitary pads in the school,” said Thing.
A majority of girls skip classes for four to five days during their menstruation since the school has not stocked up on sanitary pads. The municipality this year has not provided a budget to community schools to buy sanitary pads as it had done in the previous year, said Bal Chand Malla, the school headmaster.
“Last year, the municipality had given us money to buy sanitary pads for students, but this year the budget is yet to come,” said Malla.
On May 4, 2019, President Bidya Devi Bhandari had announced that sanitary pads would be distributed to girls in community schools for free from the beginning of the current fiscal year. During the budget speech of 2019/20, the federal government had declared its plan to provide sanitary pads to girls above 13 years of age in community schools. However, it was only after seven months of the announcement that the government released a budget for the same. It has allocated Rs 1.37 billion for the procurement of pads for 753 local units across the country in the current fiscal year.
A 2016 report by the UNICEF showed that 15 to 22 percent of girls from schools in Achham, Bajura and Parsa missed a whole day of school due to menstrual discomfort, both physical and mental.
Tanka Bahadur Moktan, chairman of the rural municipality, said since the federal government delayed releasing the budget for the programme, the number of girls missing classes is gradually increasing.
“We just received the budget. The federal government started the programme without due preparation and without ensuring the needed budget. That’s why it took a long time to implement the programme,” said Moktan. “The municipal office will purchase sanitary pads and distribute them to community schools as soon as possible.”
Thaha Municipality in Makwanpur had also distributed sanitary pads to girls in the last academic year. But the programme has come to a halt this year.
Labasher Bista, mayor of the municipality, said his office will soon launch a sanitary pad distribution programme in its community schools.
“Lack of sanitary pads is one of the main reasons why girls in rural areas miss their schools,” said Bista. “We will address this issue.”