A Small Step that Ignited a Silent Revolution
Ahusband’s effort to understand the concerns of his newly-wedded wife sparked a revolution. The recent Akshay Kumar-starrer ‘Pad Man’ highlights the story of this revolution. It has kick-started the awareness drive and a much-needed discourse on menstrual hygiene in the country, once again. Inspired from the story of original Padman Arunachalam Muruganantham, the inventor of the low-cost sanitary padmaking machine; the film speaks about his journey in innovating a grassroots mechanism for generating awareness about traditional unhygienic practices surrounding menstruation in rural India. A school dropout, Muruganantham started experimenting on designs of the sanitary pads with his wife and sisters as test subjects. Immense hard work coupled with trial and error finally led to the making of an easy-to-operate low-cost machine.
AAI: A CHANGE AGENT MOULDING PUBLIC PERCEPTION
Cut back to the first fortnight of October 2017, in a first of its kind initiative, under the leadership of Airport Director, Aryama Sanyal, the Indore Airport installed Sanitary Napkin Vending Machines in the female restrooms of the Arrival Hall and Departure Security Hold Area. With accompanying instructions in English and Hindi, a lady attendant is also positioned in the area to assist women passengers operate the machine. “Since there is no medical shop near the airport and it is impossible to move in and out from the Terminal Building, we begun this initiative. Each facility has the capacity to stock 25 pads and the money from these machines will be utilised to maintain the stock,” said Aryama Sanyal.
Airports Authority of India (AAI) has been committed to the responsibility of enhancing its passengers’ travel experience and in providing facilities for passengers’ comfort and convenience. The installation of the sanitary napkin vending machines at airports in realising an imminent need for better women’s facilitation at airports is a testimonial to the efforts taken by AAI in this direction. The ready availability of sanitary napkins at affordable prices inside the airport terminal buildings will promote
hygienic practices and will also help address the deep rooted stigma attached to menstruation.
Following suit, other AAI airports at Kolkata, Jaipur, Bhubaneswar, Port Blair, Trivandrum, Mangalore, Tirupati, Vishakhapatnam, Vadodara, Aurangabad, Rajkot, Pune, Guwahati, Agartala, Imphal, Shimla, Varanasi and Surat have also installed the sanitary napkin vending machines inside their terminal buildings. These machines are easy to operate and require only a coin of rupee one, five or ten for a pack of three.
This initiative has been widely appreciated by the women passengers travelling through various AAI airports. Soon, passengers travelling through other AAI airports will also be able to avail this facility. Few of the airports are even contemplating provisions for providing the sanitary pads free of cost in collaboration with different Nongovernment Organisations (NGOS). Dr. Guruprasasd Mohapatra, Chairman, AAI seems content with the efforts undertaken by the various AAI airports in installing sanitary napkin vending machines. “Installation of sanitary napkin vending machines is a small step towards ensuring comfort for female air travellers. While we are committed to provide a safe and secure air travel, we feel it is our responsibility to address basic hygiene-related needs too,” he said. India witnessed exceptional rise in domestic air travel and crossed the 100-million mark for the first time in 2017. As the passenger footfall in airports increase, the duties of public service providers also demand augmentation. AAI believes that this gentle step will pave way for more such passenger-friendly initiatives in the future.
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Sanitary Napkin Vending Machine, Kolkata Airport
Aryama Sanyal, Airport Director, Indore - pioneer of the initiative