On the occasion of Global Menstrual Hygiene Day this year, the Directorate of Swachh Bharat Mission – Gramin (SBM-G) installed an incinerator in the women’s toilet of the Program Management Unit, (PMU). Leading the change to put women at the centre, the initiative symbolized the Directorate’s keenness to create a MHM (menstrual hygiene management) ecosystem that consists of awareness, safe usage of menstrual products and access to menstrual waste disposal facilities.
The unit was inaugurated on May 30, 2022 by Joint Director-Technical, SBM-G in the presence of the entire Project Management Unit team. In the absence of such a service earlier, used sanitary pads were being disposed of in an improper manner. This step therefore is significant, encouraging women to adopt safe practices in menstrual hygiene and disposal of sanitary waste.
MHM has assumed particular significance in the recent times and various steps have been considered to improve the status of each prong of the MHM ecosystem. Right from the primary focus of awareness generation, breaking myths and taboos, improving access to affordable products for better menstrual hygiene; consistent change has been witnessed. These, coupled with strengthening of services and facilities in-house, has induced wide scale adoption of sanitary pad incinerators. These units are being installed in all educational and work settings so that girls and women experience menstruation in a safe and dignified manner.
The ongoing Solid Liquid Waste Management (SLWM) program, brings a unique focus on disposal system mechanisms, safe practices and waste treatment strategies such as incineration. With a view to prioritizing women’s health and sanitation needs and to accommodate safe hygienic practices, Swachh Bharat Mission – Gramin, Government of Jharkhand has installed this electric operated incinerator in the women’s toilet.
The issue was first discussed with Director SBM-G in the presence of all other SBM-G officials who recognized the concern and decided to seek possible solutions. A local vendor was finalized after receiving the specifications and the unit was installed after a detailed demonstration of its working. The unit has the capacity of burning 3-5 pads together and 100 pads on a daily basis. Fully automatic and light weight, the unit takes 15–20 mins to burn pads. O&M of the facility is the responsibility of the vendor for one year after which it would be extended.
“With the installation of the incinerator, we can have safer and anxiety-free working hours in the office. I remember carrying used pads in my bag, on my way back home,” a staff member said, delighted with the facility.
Disposal habits change based on the availability of facilities. Armed with the knowledge of the gadget and its functions will ease the lives of women working in PMU. This facility will not only lead women to adapt to the change but will empower them to manage menstrual hygiene in a safe manner.
The women folk have decided to form a WhatsApp group so that the operation including cleaning can be decided upon. In due course, other floors with washrooms will have a similar facility. With this, SBMG has become a pioneer institution to lead the disposal issue, setting an example for others to emulate.