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Empowering Adolescence: A Solar-Powered Solution to Enhance Menstrual Hygiene in Rural India

Breaking Barriers, Fostering Education, and Ensuring Dignity for Girls through Innovative Sanitary Napkin Vending Machines

Adolescence, a phase highlighted by vital physical and psychological changes, is a critical period for individuals aged 10-19, as emphasized by the World Health Organization (WHO). Menarche, the inaugural menstruation, typically occurring between 12 to 13 years, signifies the commencement of a girl's reproductive journey. However, girls in developing countries, particularly in rural India, grapple with challenges such as inadequate knowledge, shyness, and embarrassment in managing menstruation. In rural areas, limited access to sanitary napkins compounds the issue, leading many girls to resort to unhygienic alternatives like old garments or rags. The lack of proper education on sanitary napkin usage further complicates matters, causing disruptions in girls' education as they refrain from attending school during menstruation. Recognizing the urgent need for a solution, NBIRT and Geetanjali Solar Enterprise, in collaboration and with funding from InSIC, have pioneered a transformative project. They jointly developed a solar-powered sanitary napkin vending machine tailored for rural areas where electricity supply is erratic. This innovative solution, discreetly placed inside girls' washrooms to ensure privacy, is designed to hold a substantial stock of 100 units. To address the energy challenge, a 40Wp solar panel and a 10Ah battery were deemed optimal, ensuring both efficacy and sustainability. Encased in a durable 2mm cold-rolled steel cabinet, the system houses the low-power dispensing mechanism, a 5-rupee coin acceptor, the controller, the battery, and crucially, a stock of 100 sanitary napkins. The collaborative effort between NBIRT and Geetanjali Solar Enterprise exemplifies a commitment to addressing the unique challenges faced by adolescent girls in rural areas. By providing a practical and sustainable solution, this solar-powered vending machine not only enhances menstrual hygiene management but also serves as a catalyst for uninterrupted education, empowering girls to navigate adolescence with dignity and confidence.

27 Dec 2023

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