New Delhi: In a hasty decision on March 24, a nationwide lockdown was announced shuttering down all factories and stopping any kind of transportation to curb the spread of coronavirus, with the only exception to essential commodities and people working in essential services. As a result, many manufacturers stopped production fearing government orders and not knowing what to do. Also Read - Unlock 2 in Jammu and Kashmir: Shopping Malls Can Reopen, Movement of Individuals For Non-essential Activities Remains Prohibited

One such production unit that took a hit was of companies making sanitary napkins. The government directive did not make it clear as to which commodities qualify as ‘essential’ and which don’t. Also Read - Soft Copies, 6 Feet Distance, Sanitisers: New Rules For Parliamentary Panel Meets

Sanitary napkins, an essential product of feminine hygiene, have not been included in the list of essential items issued by the central or state government. As a result, they are running out of stock in several parts of the country after many manufacturers have shut their plants. Also Read - COVID in Maharashtra Today: 1 Death Every 7 Minutes, 265 New Cases Every Hour

In a report published by BloombergQuint, Rajesh Shah, president of Feminine and Infant Hygiene Association of India, said, “The central government is yet to clarify if sanitary napkins is an essential item because of which almost all factories have shut. State governments also need to add sanitary napkins to the essential items list so that companies can start manufacturing.”

It is surprising because a pandemic and a lockdown imposed due to it will not stop a woman’s menstrual cycle.

The situation led to a Twitter storm, with angry users criticising the government, forcing Minister of Women and Child Development, Smriti Irani had to issue a clarification about it.

“Taking note of growing concern regarding availability of Sanitary Napkins, Home Secretary to Government of India has issued clarification to Chief Secretaries of all the states regarding Sanitary Pads being an essential commodity,” Irani said in a tweet on Sunday.

The fact that the government missed out on mentioning such an essential product in the list raises question on various levels as to the social conditioning in India and where women stand.