To promote awareness around the need to have easy access to safe feminine hygiene products and to ensure its availability in educational institutions, Santex Products, a leading local company in sanitary and women hygiene in Pakistan, has partnered with the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi, where it will supply its Butterfly Breathable range to fill in the four newly-installed feminine hygiene vending machines on IBA’s campuses.

This relatively innovative idea of supplying sanitary napkins in vending machines, set up at different points in the two campuses inside female restrooms, is the first for IBA. The machines will not only ensure easy access to these products but will also help in respecting the privacy concerns of women.

While feminine hygiene is an undisputed right of every female, at least 500 million women and girls are denied this right globally, according to the World Bank. In Pakistan alone, 50 percent of our young girls residing in rural and underprivileged areas are forced to quit school due to lack of access to safe hygiene products and separate sanitation facilities.

The situation is not any better in our urban areas where most women tend to use old rag cloths for their hygiene needs, that too for a much longer period of time than is safe. This might not sound like a big deal, but there is a huge risk of developing serious health issues due to these unsafe practices, such as urinary tract infection, vaginal infection, and toxic shock syndrome, some of which may even turn out to be fatal if left untreated for long.

Despite the essential need for feminine hygiene, the availability of these products in public and private institutions is next to none. The female population in schools, colleges, and universities either has to take care of their needs by themselves or they are left helpless.

In view of this situation, this initiative by Santex Products is a breath of fresh air that would not only answer the hygiene needs of females in their educational institutions and workplaces, but would also help in deconstructing the shame associated with it. Over the last one year, Santex Products has been working towards educating young girls/women on Menstrual Hygiene Management via its Butterfly Outreach Program.

Being a pioneer company that has been working for the personal hygiene needs of the Pakistani women for over 30 years, Santex has continuously worked on bringing innovation in its products with the changing needs of its consumers. In the current time, when our society has still not been able to acknowledge the basic hygiene needs of women and has caged it in within the shackles of shame, the initiative by Santex to come on ground and spearhead the awareness campaign around the issue is commendable.

Thus, it is the need of the hour to realize that feminine hygiene products are not a privilege or a luxury, but they are the most basic rights of women and that their easy access must be ensured to all women, regardless of social status. Moreover, there is a need for more of such initiatives at both public and private level so that safe feminine hygiene may be guaranteed across the country.