PM Modi mentions sanitary pads at Red Fort, impresses Twitterati
Breaking taboos pertaining to menstruation and taking many by surprise, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said his government delivered sanitary pads to poor women across India at Re. 1. By mentioning sanitary napkins in his Independence Day speech, PM Modi struck a chord with Twitter users, who hailed him. Many noted that they never saw a leader speak about menstruation so candidly.
In his speech on the 74th Independence day, the PM underlined that his government provided 5 crore sanitary pads (costing Re. 1 each) to women through nearly 6,000 Jan Aushadhi stores. "Also, we have made panels so that the right marriageable age for women can be decided and these panels also work to resolve the issue of malnutrition among women," he added.
As Modi went about listing the achievements of his government and outlining his vision for the future, he put special emphasis on issues of women empowerment. He mentioned the abolition of triple talaq, adding that "today women are working in coal mines and flying fighter planes." Commending women for "making India proud," he talked about providing equal opportunities for employment and self-employment.
Continuing his speech underlining the schemes and measures taken for women, PM Modi said that out of the existing 40 crore accounts under Jan Dhan Yojana, 22 crore are held by women. The government will expand NCC cadets in the border areas and one-third of new cadets will be women, he said. "70% of MUDRA loans are taken by our mothers, sisters," he added.
While PM Modi has spoken about women-centric schemes on multiple occasions, this was the first time he mentioned sanitary napkins. This assumes significance as lakhs of Indian women resort to unsafe options while menstruating, due to lack of awareness, budget constraints, and taboos. Soon after the speech, people on Twitter burst forth with their praise, hailing the PM for taking up such a topic.
One of the most notable names to praise PM Modi for his historic speech was actor Akshay Kumar, who was earlier part of the 2018 movie Padman, which also focused on starting constructive conversations around menstruation. "Our PM talking about sanitary pads in his Independence Day speech today is true progress...made menstruation a mainstream topic, (sic)" he tweeted.
Our @PMOIndia talking about sanitary pads in his Independence Day speech today is true progress...made menstruation a mainstream topic. Also kudos to the government who has so far distributed sanitary pads to about 5 crore women at Re. 1 👏— Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar) August 15, 2020
There were other Twitter users who hailed PM Modi for being the rare statesman to talk about an issue that is discussed in hushed voices. Young women said this is what feminism meant, and there were others who hailed the current regime for thinking about menstrual hygiene. There were many who hoped that this speech sets a benchmark for other men as well.
Can other countries imagine a PM speaking of both women’s achievements and providing sanitary pads widely from a historic platform? If people don’t find this progressive and path-breaking, what will?— Jaya Jaitly (@Jayajaitly) August 15, 2020