New Delhi – The Supreme Court is set to address a significant plea on Monday, seeking directives to states and the Centre to provide free sanitary pads to girls in classes 6 to 12 and ensure the availability of separate female toilet facilities in all government-aided and residential schools.
Social worker Jaya Thakur’s plea is scheduled to be heard by a bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra.
Previously, the top court had called upon the Centre to develop a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and a national model that all states and Union Territories could adopt to address menstrual hygiene management for girls in schools.
In an earlier hearing on April 10, the Supreme Court emphasized the immense importance of the issue and urged the Centre to engage with all stakeholders for the effective implementation of a uniform national policy on menstrual hygiene management, particularly in government and aided schools.
To facilitate this process, the court appointed the Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) as the nodal officer to liaise with all states and UTs and gather relevant data for the formulation of a comprehensive national policy.
The court acknowledged that the MOHFW, along with the Ministries of Education and Jal Shakti, already runs schemes aimed at addressing issues related to menstrual hygiene.
In the plea filed by Jaya Thakur, represented by advocate Varinder Kumar Sharma, it was highlighted that adolescent girls between the ages of 11 and 18, hailing from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, face serious difficulties in receiving education, which is their constitutional right under Article 21A of the Constitution.
The plea underscored the lack of access to education, along with limited knowledge about menstruation and menstrual hygiene due to financial constraints and illiteracy, leading to unhygienic practices and adverse health consequences. These challenges often result in girls eventually dropping out of school.
The case raises critical concerns about menstrual health and its impact on girls’ education and overall well-being. As the Supreme Court takes up this important matter, it may potentially shape policies and initiatives to address the needs of young schoolgirls, empowering them to pursue education without facing unnecessary obstacles related to menstrual hygiene.