CRPF gets sanction to install sanitary pad dispensers for women in combat

A high school in Vijayawada launched a pilot distribution system. A vending machine was installed, where girls can put the token issued by their female teacher and get a pad. | Image for representational purpose.

In a first instance of gender sensitive budgeting, the government has sanctioned exclusive funds to the country’s largest paramilitary force CRPF to procure and install over 500 sanitary pad dispensers and incinerators for its women personnel in combat.

Funds have been sanctioned to procure a total of 288 pad vending machines and as many incinerators to scientifically dispose used sanitary napkins.

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has also been authorised to purchase 783 steel frame stands for drying clothes for all its six mahila battalions, 15 special anti-riot units of the Rapid Action Force and training institutions.

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The sanctioned funds, which were authorised by the Union Home Ministry, stands at ₹2,10,69, 000, as per an order, a copy of which is with PTI.

The cost of one sanitary pad vending machine is estimated to be about ₹2,50,000, a burning machine about ₹40,000 and a cloth drying stand ₹3,000, the Home Ministry order said.

The expenditure will be met from the “approved budget grant” of the force, it said.
“The sanction will help the force in ensuring better living and operating conditions for the over 8,000 women personnel who are in combat.

“The women troops are deployed across the country for rendering law and order duties, anti-naxal operations and other operational tasks that are rendered by men personnel,” CRPF spokesperson Deputy Inspector General Moses Dhinakaran told the news agency.

The dispensers and incinerators, which destroys used pads scientifically, will be installed soon and the CRPF has moved for this special gender sensitive budget allowance last year, a senior official said.

It is expected that this first of its kind approval will also be granted to other forces under the command of the Ministry of Home Affairs, said the official, who did not wish to be named.

The call for having gender sensitive budgeting and creating an enabling environment for women in khaki was first mooted during the National Conference for women in Police in 2016.

The conference was organised by the Home Ministry here. IPS officer Renuka Mishra, currently an additional director general (ADG) in her cadre state of Uttar Pradesh, had conducted a study a few years back and it was the first that brought out the issues of health, privacy and challenges being faced by women personnel at workplace.

The officer, then an inspector general with border guarding force Sashastra Seema Bal at its headquarters here, spoke to a number of women, mainly in constabulary ranks, in state police forces and Central Armed Police Forces.

The survey found that while women personnel go on long spells of no water to avoid urination, it was also hard for them to find a proper place to wash their clothes and even to dry their undergarments while on the job.

It found they also faced difficulty to procure sanitary pads while on duty and it was equally difficult for them to dispose them off as men sweepers were reluctant to clean women toilets and clean the trash.

Women personnel had begun digging a pit in their units to dispose used sanitary pads, the study found.

“The women personnel said it was difficult for them to dry their inner wear due to lack of facilities. Clothes remained damp as they did not dry due to lack of sunlight, and led to urinary tract infections in women,” Mishra said welcoming the latest sanction of cloth drying racks to the CRPF.

“The entire effort of the study and the national conference on women in police was to create a conducive and unobtrusive work environment for women personnel who are giving their best despite all the problems they face,” she said.

The Central Reserve Police Force, with a strength of over 3 lakh personnel, has its women personnel deployed all over the country, including in naxal violence affected and the militancy grid in Jammu and Kashmir.

The paramilitary force last week unveiled the country’s first prototype of a body protector for women personnel which it has jointly developed with the Defence Research and Development Organisation.

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