I was in an urgent meeting when my cramps just came in a screaming flow. It was so painful that I could feel my insides contorting. I sat on my workstation for at least 30 mins writhing in pain. Yet I could not muster the courage to ask my boss for an early off. I thought It wasn’t a reason enough for a menstrual leave.
This is the story of Aditi; a corporate employee who has learned to deal with the lethal period of pain and meet deadlines simultaneously. Well, This is the shared fate of all the women who have become a silent sufferer instead of standing up for their right to rest during periods
Almost 25 million women have endometriosis illness. This illness leads to the worst menstrual pain. The pain gets so unbearable sometimes that may lead to a person’s death under certain circumstances.
Endometriosis Society India
Why is period still a stigma?
Even several years of concentrated efforts to spread period awareness through articles, discussions, blogs, vlogs, awareness camps, and workshops have done little change only. What is the reason behind stigmatizing menstruation and not doing away with it completely? Here is the answer. Destigmatizing periods will call for facing challenges like menstrual management, adverse reproductive health outcome, social ostracization of women, diseases, and death due to period pain.
In any case, we need to speed up our collective effort to demand a legal framework for menstrual leave law in India
A look at India’s legal framework for menstrual leave.
The Indian legislative has been extremely backward in framing period-friendly policies. Firstly, It was considered an important issue to be brought into the legal arena. Secondly, women had to always put up a good fight to ask even for a bare minimum.
On the other hand, countries like Japan, South Korea, and Italy have always had period-sensitive policies. However, Bihar is the only Indian state to provide special menstrual leave since 1992 through its Human Resource guidelines.
The Menstruation Benefit Bill 2018 tabled in the parliament prescribes two days of menstrual leave every month. However, it is yet to receive assent.
On the other hand, Private companies have been up to speed in implementing period-sensitive policies. Companies like Zomato, Byju’s, Swiggy, Mathubhumi, Magzter, Industry ARC, FlyMyBiz, Gozoop, and iVIPANAN are the nine private companies that provide adopted different frameworks to provide monthly period leaves to their employees.
There is another tangent of discussion on menstrual leaves in the workplace. Though some women have been demanding paid menstrual leave at the workplace, there is another group of women that holds a contrary opinion. They say providing menstrual leave will deepen male preconceptions about a female weakness which will also affect the overall hiring and promotion prospects of women in the workplace.
The issue of menstrual leave tends to a backseat among other issues due to the male dominance in every work sphere. They associate menstrual leave an attack on productivity and outcome.
Why do we need the paid period leaves?
Everybody is built differently and thus responds differently to menstrual pain. The biological complexities should be considered a strong reason to base the provision of paid period leaves in India. Deriding women of rest during periods when they experience excruciating pain not only violates women’s rights but basic human rights as well.
Right to rest: Every menstruator deserves a proper rest and medication(If required) while on periods. To work at the cost of an ailment not only worsens physical health but mental health as well.
Improved productivity: There is an infamous misconception that period leave will affect the productivity of women professionals. In fact, the period leave will leave women to rest and get back to work all fresh and energetic.
Period-sensitive workplace: Workplace policies have been running to and fro on various issues. However, period talk has always been a taboo topic. The provision of the paid period will make the workspaces period sensitive.
Encourage Women professionals: Often women flinch from taking up challenging jobs and companies that are not period friendly. This dwarfs the longitude of their career and personal growth. Period sensitivity at the workplace will encourage women to stretch their potential to the fullest.
It high time for all menstruators to stand up for their right to demand paid period leaves. In a country that has been oscillating between regressive and progressive reforms and ideas, Fighting for menstrual leave is going to be a tough task but nevertheless, We should anticipate victory at the end.
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