First Pad Man, and now PadBank... cheers to she power!
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First Pad Man, and now PadBank... cheers to she power!

Founded by Ghaziabad-based Pinkishe Foundation, PadBank collects sanitary pads via donations and then distributes them to women who are can’t afford them.

First Pad Man, and now PadBank... cheers to she power!

Female menstrual hygiene has always been the subject of secret speculation — or of talks within the privacy of home in an all-female presence. But a slow and certain change is in the making — be it the still running Pad Man in theatres, or women themselves speaking up... the taboos are slowly giving way.

And PadBank is part of this significant milieu.

Pinkishe Foundation, a Ghaziabad-based women organisation started ‘PadBank’, an initiative to collect sanitary pads via donations and then distribute them to women who are can’t afford to buy.

According to group members, PadBank, which opened up a couple of months back, now has 55 branches across India, with four such branches in Ghaziabad. “We issue cards to the women who come and collect the pads. This way we can keep track of the receivers, and also investigate in case they stop collecting their monthly packages,” explained Ghaziabad resident Shalini Gupta, who’s also the national general secretary of Pinkishe.

Padbank is headquartered in Kaushambi, besides having branches at Crossings Republik, Kavinagar, Olive County. Women can collect pads from any of the branches.

According to Gupta, the biggest concern about female menstrual hygiene is lack of awareness and reluctance to discuss the issue. “People do not understand that it is a significant part of human reproduction. Just like sex education, menstrual hygiene has also been kept under wraps. People still collect their sanitary napkins in opaque packets, lest someone sees them,” she said.

She, however, maintained that the situation has bettered over the last decade. “Schools have started imparting lessons on the issue; parents have started discussing with their children; there are social organisations now that deal with menstrual hygiene — so things are indeed changing.”

So, where lies the genesis of PadBank?

It was during her days of work for rural education that Gupta came across young girls who would skip school for days every month due to menstruation. Lack of awareness and affordability made the situation adversarial for the girls.

PadBank decided to step in. Going from door to door was not an option as it required manpower, so it decided to start centres, and soon it spread its wings.

Talking about increasing its outreach, Deepika Garg, a Pinkishe member, said, “In Ghaziabad, we are in talks with a few bodies and might conduct joint drives soon. Also, there are a few RWAs in Gurgaon who are working with us in conducting collection and distribution drives, but they have largely been untapped support bodies.”

Reema, another Pinkishe member, added, “We are already in the process to launch a mobile application where all the donors and recipients will be profiled and both can connect. Each and every pad will be accounted for and the donor can learn the details of the donated pads.”