Thursday, 7 July, 2022
E-paper

Freedom vending machines helping 3.5 million women maintain menstrual health

Anika (fictional name) used to get in a lot of trouble when she used to have period all of a sudden in school. She would whisper and ask for a pad from her mates. If not available to her friends, Anika had to run to the school nanny and fetch from the shop. She had thought many times that if there were a machine inside the school which could provide napkins anytime. Even though Anika passed college and enrolled in university, she sometimes faces the same trouble whenever she forgets to put an extra pad into her bag. Is there any end to this hassle?

Thousands of women like Anika face the obstacle of maintaining period hygiene outside the home because of the lack of availability of napkins. At school, college, university, office, or other places where they spend most of the day studying or working, they are exposed to long-term health issues due to the unavailability of a napkin. Moreover, most women in our country are not aware of hygiene issues and use clothes during periods. Freedom Vending Machine, an initiative of Freedom, one of the leading sanitary napkins in Bangladesh, has been playing a crucial role in raising women's health awareness for the past few years.

The country's first vending machine was installed free of cost at the University of Dhaka in December 2019 with the initiative of Freedom. Initially, the installation of ten vending machines ensured sanitary napkin availability for 15,000 students. Besides, vending machines have also been established at Viqarunnisa Noon School and College, BAF Shaheen College, Eden woman's College, North South University, BRAC University, Jagannath University, Jahangirnagar University, Rajshahi University, and many more renowned educational institutions. Freedom vending machines are being spread step by step in different schools, colleges, and universities across the country, reaching a number of more than 100. As a result, now more than 3.5 million women can easily buy sanitary napkins at an affordable price anytime through these hundreds of vending machines.

Nowadays, Freedom Vending Machine is the name of relief at schools, colleges, and universities. Girls can buy napkins anytime, spending just only 10 Taka. A napkin comes out quickly after inserting a 10 taka note inside the machine. It has saved women from the embarrassment of asking pad from someone else, whispering, or sending someone to fetch a pad from the store. This fantastic initiative by Freedom has made girls comfortable and confident with the availability of affordable napkins.

Freedom's goal is to ensure that women in Bangladesh do not have any obstacles in their lives, celebrations, dreams, or empowerment because of period. To achieve this goal, the Freedom Vending Machine started its journey from the initial attempt to make sanitary napkins available to women at any time. Freedom is moving forward to ensure menstrual hygiene for women by creating 'Freedom Hygiene Network' by setting up more vending machines in the future.