According to the latest data released by the government, the number of active coronavirus cases has shot up to 18,668 across India and 775 people have lost their lives. With every passing day, the paranoia around the virus is rising and so are the difficulties of everyone who is trying to make their ends meet, including migrant workers. India has been under lockdown since March 25 and the economy has been drastically hit. Projections as per the recent analysis by researchers at the United Nations University (UNU) indicate that the extended business shutdown could swell the count of India's poorest to 915 million.
Currently, 60% of our country's population lives below the poverty line. The government is trying its best to distribute daily ration and meals to the underprivileged. But, has anyone ever thought that those who can't even afford meals would end up risking their menstrual health and lives by not being able to afford sanitary pads either? I am talking about women who have become prone to health risks due to the shortage of funds for daily wage earners.
Understanding the gravitas of the situation, former Miss World Manushi Chhillar has taken it upon herself to urge the state governments to distribute sanitary pads to the underprivileged section for free along with ration. Manushi has lauded the government for listing sanitary pads as an essential commodity amid the COVID-19 crisis. But of course, that is not enough. The ex-Miss World, who backs Project Shakti, a non-profit program, has also spoken to organisations who are working non-stop in ensuring pads are distributed free of cost.
"The issue is that due to the shortage of funds, particularly among the daily wage earners, most would be looking to spend their money on just food and women's sanitation might not be a top priority for many families. This would increase the health hazard for millions of women in India as sanitary pads come at a certain cost and the financial crisis is definitely going to push women to be at risk. But it would be great if administration, from a district level to city to state-level comes forward to help the needy," she added.
Remember, Manushi has been working to empower women across the country and is involved in projects that enable women to make a living by manufacturing biodegradable sanitary pads. The non-profit program backed by Manushi also works towards raising awareness on menstrual hygiene among women in rural areas. Well, we can only hope that Manushi's request is soon paid heed upon and the women in our country get access to a basic personal care item-- a sanitary pad.
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