With the danger of coronavirus outbreak looming large, the government has announced a nation-wide lockdown for 21 days.
Which means that people have to stay inside their homes and can only step out for emergencies and purchase of 'essential items'.
That's where it gets a bit tricky. The government didn't make it very clear as to which items qualify as 'essential' and the production of sanitary napkins took a direct hit because of that.
Several companies in the country shut down their plants, since there was no clear directive from the government on whether they can operate or not.
Production of Sanitary napkins must be allowed during lockdown so that stocks don’t run out.— Sushmita Dev (@sushmitadevinc) March 29, 2020
This is yet another example of #LockdownWithoutPlan & insensitivity.
I hope this is rectified by the Govt of India & all states. @INCIndia @PMOIndia @MinistryWCD https://t.co/sxqM5ItMkh
In its report on the issue, Bloomberg Quint quoted Rajesh Shah, president of Feminine and Infant Hygiene Association of India as saying:
The central government is yet to clarify if sanitary napkins is an essential item because of which almost all factories have shut. State governments also need to add sanitary napkins to the essential items list so that companies can start manufacturing.
The situation became so bad that several regions started facing a shortage of sanitary napkins and Minister of Women and Child Development, Smriti Irani had to issue a clarification about it.
🛎NOTICE 🛎— NCW (@NCWIndia) March 29, 2020
Feminine hygiene products 'sanitary napkins' are 'essential needs', and has been included in the essential items list issued by the central government. State government are notified to include sanitary napkins manufacturers to continue productions.#SwasthaBharat https://t.co/un48ojDa2x
However, the point is, should it even be a question whether sanitary napkins are 'essential' items? Should there be any confusion regarding it to begin with?
A pandemic or a lockdown resulting from it, will not stop women's menstruation cycle. And if anything, they need sanitary napkins now more than ever.
With access becoming difficult due to reduced mobility, the government should take special steps to ensure that the product is readily available.
About this story, it's meant to alert not alarm.— menaka doshi (@menakadoshi) March 29, 2020
But what I am alarmed by is that sanitary napkins have not been classified as essential goods.
The association tells us most production units are shut.
The companies have yet to respond.https://t.co/1s6SxFytB6