At a time when menstrual hygiene is still considered a taboo, 28-year-old Irfana Zargar from Srinagar is distributing free sanitary kits to women and young girls in Srinagar and nearby villages in Kashmir valley. The kit contains all the essentials required for maintaining healthy menstrual practices like sanitary napkins, antispasmodics and hand wash.
Under an initiative called Eva Safety Kit’, Zargar has been placing sanitary kits in public washrooms as part of a menstrual hygiene campaign to provide napkins free of cost to local women and girls.
She always wanted to do something for women and dedicated the initiative to her late and beloved father, Ghulam Hassan Zargar.
“I have been working for this cause since 2014 when my father Ghulam Hassan Zargar died of cardiac arrest. Without being funded by any non-governmental organisation (NGO) or government, I am paying from my own pocket despite being a contractual low paid employee at Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC),” Zargar told the media.
A working employee, Zargar manages the expense of the sanitary kits from her own pocket to help others who may be deprived of these facilities. She had invested half her salary in purchasing menstrual products and has distributed it all to unprivileged girls.
Helping in difficult times
Although Zargar started this initiative before the COVID-19 pandemic, she continued her efforts even in the middle of the lockdown. She says a majority of the women who approached her were single mothers, widows and handicapped women with a meager source of income.
“Their financial problems doubled due to the COVID-19 lockdown as all their sources of income stopped. The needy women come to my home to receive sanitary kits while the girls send their parents to collect the napkins.”
She started ‘door-to-door’ delivery of these sanitary kits during the pandemic to provide a hygienic menstrual experience to all the women in the valley.
In the last seven months, Zargar claims to have distributed more than 10,000 sanitary pads besides distributing menstrual kits in 15 public washrooms around Srinagar city.
(Edited by Amrita Ghosh)