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A few simple women friendly policies at work that take into account their needs during periods and pregnancy can make the workplace a better place for women.
A few simple women friendly policies at work that take into account our needs during periods and pregnancy can make the workplace a better place for women.
“Is it that time of the month again?”, we sometimes joke when a female friend is crabby. But, it is not really very funny.
For approximately three and a half decades of her life, a woman gets her period once a month for 4 to 7 days. For many women one or two of these days can be spent suffering agonizing cramps in addition to the blood loss. Others may endure milder physical and emotional symptoms collectively called PMS. But few complain openly. Mainly because nobody takes period pains seriously. It is natural, they say. So don’t whine about it.
Yes, true, it is indeed a natural process, that the body spends weeks building a home for the possibility of a fetus and then discards it at the end of the month, if there is no fetus to use it and then starts the process of building again. But just because it is natural, does not mean it is not unpleasant. Some women experience nausea and vomiting. Some experience intense pain comparable to a slipped disc.
In the past society has deprived women of participating in various activities during periods. That was wrong. Because whether or not to work or play, during periods, should be the particular woman’s choice. Not all women suffer bad symptoms, so whether to get a little rest during periods, or not, should be an individual woman’s choice.
Recently the WHO has proposed a period leave policy and many women feel that it might be a danger to gender equality. Some worry that it is a regressive step that shows women to be inferior. Some simply don’t sympathize because their own periods are not disruptive and quite manageable. Some just don’t want people to know when they have periods because of the social taboo attached to them.
Some men deliberately use this issue to undermine gender equality. Their argument is that, the fact that women are weak during periods, implies they are inferior to men. I would like to point out that women undergo this monthly process, so that the species can procreate. The fact that some women bear intense pain month after month, is a testimonial to their strength, and should not be construed as evidence of weakness. After all, men do not have to work with the handicap of monthly cramps, so how is it equal that women should?
In my opinion, women do carry a significantly heavier load in the processes of procreation, so they should not feel ashamed to have society and employers do their bit and show compassion in return. And for those who don’t want it, well, they do not have to avail of it. But why deprive those who really need it?
Period leave does not have to be very generous. In fact whole days off are not even necessary for many. Some say that the worst lasts for just a few hours. Surely women can take a few hours off on their worst period days. Also, not in every month, is the worst period day going to be on a working day. So may be period leave can be limited to 6 days or 48 hours annually. It should be optional, so only those who really need it, can avail of it.
Many women who do suffer intense symptoms, might even be willing to just have flexibility in working hours on those days, instead of the day off. They might be willing to work overtime on other days, to make up for a period day. There are many possibilities but there should be a discussion. It is the flexibility during periods, that the women who suffer, need more than anything, and there should be policies in place to make that flexibility available.
A simple but very considerate and helpful step would be to introduce vending machines for tampons and sanitary pads in the ladies bathrooms. It spares women the inconvenience of always having to carry some and further inconvenience if they did forget.
Another issue that is often overlooked or underestimated is morning sickness. Most women work till they are over 8 months pregnant, but for some morning sickness can be very difficult. Some vomit several times a day, everyday, for several months. Back ache, frequent need to urinate and swelling due to water retention, are other discomforts of pregnancy. Most women bear the discomfort without complaining. But employers and colleagues can be compassionate.
It doesn’t take much, but a few simple gestures go a long way to make a pregnant woman’s life easier. Here are some ideas.
None of these things are a big deal to offer, but they make the life of a pregnant woman significantly easier.
Most of these implementations cost little or nothing, but such sensitive and compassionate employers will go a long way to fostering a comfortable environment where women can be their most productive.
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Image source: tired pregnant woman by Shutterstock.
Kanika G, a physicist by training and a mother of 2 girls, started writing to entertain her older daughter with stories, thus opening the flood gates on a suppressed passion. Today she has written over read more...
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As he stood in front of his door, Nishant prayed that his wife would be in a better mood. The baby thing was tearing them apart. When was the last time he had seen his wife smile?
Veena got into the lift. It was a festival day, and the space was crammed with little children dressed in bright yellow clothes, wearing fancy peacock feather crowns, and carrying flutes. Janmashtami gave her the jitters. She kept her face down, refusing to socialize with anyone.
They had moved to this new apartment three months ago. The whole point of shifting had been to get away from the ruthless questioning by ‘well-wishers’.
“You have been married for ten years! Why no child yet?”
I huffed, puffed and panted up the hill, taking many rest breaks along the way. My calf muscles pained, my heart protested, and my breathing became heavy at one stage.
“Let’s turn back,” my husband remarked. We stood at the foot of Shravanbelagola – one of the most revered Jain pilgrimage centres. “We will not climb the hill,” he continued.
My husband and I were vacationing in Karnataka. It was the month of May, and even at the early hour of 8 am in the morning, the sun scorched our backs. After visiting Bangalore and Mysore, we had made a planned stop at this holy site in the Southern part of the state en route to Hosur. Even while planning our vacation, my husband was very excited at the prospect of visiting this place and the 18 m high statue of Lord Gometeshwara, considered one of the world’s tallest free-standing monolithic statues.
What we hadn’t bargained for was there would be 1001 granite steps that needed to be climbed to have a close-up view of this colossal magic three thousand feet above sea level on a hilltop. It would be an understatement to term it as an arduous climb.
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