GUWAHATI: Female voters in Arunachal capital Itanagar were in for an unexpected surprise from election authorities on Friday — sanitary napkins in return for voting.
Besides boosting female participation in the electoral process, the aim of the move was to spread awareness about menstrual hygiene. Two polling stations — DFO social forestry building and KV Building at NERIST— were part of the EC initiative called ‘sakhi booths’.Both voters and polling officials in sakhi booths are women.
Though the voter turnout at the two polling stations was less than 50%, the gift of sanitary napkins came as a pleasant surprise to the women who turned up despite the rain. About 600 of the 1400-odd registered voters turned up to exercise their franchise, said polling officials.
“All female voters who came for voting were given sanitary pads. Some mothers took the pads for their daughters. It was a kind of incentive and gratitude gift for female voters who came to vote on a rainy day,” said Hage Sunya, in-charge of the initiative at one of the polling stations. She said it will drive home the message about the importance of menstrual hygiene in the far-flung areas of northeast, especially along the borders, where many women still use cloth during periods.
“Sanitary pads as gifts is a new way to spread awareness about menstrual hygiene here. The EC move took the female voters by surprise. They were very happy,” said Keter Bagra, district information and public relations officer, Itanagar Capital Complex. She lauded district deputy commissioner Shweta Nagarkoti, an IAS officer, for the initiative.

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