Lake of Bhopal, India
Travel, for all the good it does, comes with a number of challenges. And for women, those challenges are even greater. Sanitation and access to sanitary services and products is one of these problems, but the good news is that India seems to be waking up to the problem and addressing it. This was evidenced by the first ever railway station in the country to get an automated sanitary pad dispenser. And the recipient of this brand new dispenser was Bhopal Junction railway station, the main station that services the City of Lakes itself, Bhopal. ALSO READ: Festivals and Events in India in January 2018 to Kick off a Year of Travel
The machine has been operating since the beginning of 2018 and has been aptly dubbed ‘Happy Nari’. It is the result of an initiative by the Railway Women Welfare Association of Bhopal and Arushi, a local NGO. The dispenser was set up at platform number one, near the women’s waiting room for better visibility and access. Women can get two pads by inserting an INR 5 coin into the machine, and the machine can hold up to 75 pads at a time. A trained station employee refills the machine from time to time.
So far, reception to the new automated pad dispenser has been positive. More than 600 pads were purchased on the first day, with the machine refilling nine times. In the next three days, the pads purchases rose to 2,000. The response is indicative of the need for such accessibility to sanitary pads and other services in public places like railway stations.
The association is bearing all maintenance costs, and this is just a pilot test. If it deems the pilot successful, which seems like it is already, the welfare association will be adding more machines to other platforms at the station, as well as nearby Habibganj railway station. The railway station also plans to place an incinerator in the women’s waiting room to dispose the used pads in a safe and hygienic way. NOW READ: It Snowed in the Sahara Desert for the Third Time in 40 Years
Bhopal Junction is a major railway junction and a connecting station for pilgrims from Myanmar, Japan, Thailand, Nepal, China and other places who visit the Sanchi Stupa, around 40km away. More than 350 trains stop at the station every day, with more than half a million passengers making their way through.