Sikkim ‘Bahini’ scheme

The government of Sikkim is set to announce the Bahini scheme in its annual Budget later this month.

About the Bahini scheme

  • The Bahini scheme aims to provide secondary and senior secondary school-going girls with 100% access to free and safe sanitary pads. Under the Bahini scheme, Vending machines will be installed in 210 secondary and senior secondary government schools of Sikkim to provide free sanitary pads.
  • The scheme will cover 18,665 adolescent girls studying in government schools in Sikkim.
  • This is the first time in India that a state decided to cover all girls studying in Class 9-12.
  • Under the scheme, incinerators will also be installed at the schools to dispose of pads.
  • Anganwadi and ASHA workers will also be involved in the Bahini Scheme.

Aims of the Bahini scheme

The main aim of the Bahini scheme is to curb the dropout of adolescent girls from schools. According to an international NGO WaterAid India, 23% of adolescent girls drop out of school due to a lack of proper sanitation facilities and sanitary napkins. The scheme also raises awareness about menstrual hygiene among school-going adolescent girls.

Experiment in 2018

The Bahini scheme is based on an experiment initiated in 2018 by the Sikkim government, in collaboration with Sulabh International. Under the experiment, vending machines were installed in some schools, which dispense sanitary pads for girls. But this was an ad-hoc mechanism and there was a lack of budgetary support. Due to lack of funds, some vending machines have fallen into disrepair, or stocks of sanitary pads have not been acquired on time. With the Bahini scheme being a part of the state government’s Budget, these issues will not arise.

The introduction of the Bahini scheme is important, especially in rural Sikkim, where there is no proper availability of sanitary pads for girls due to remote and difficult terrain.

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