Why period leave for women may not be such a good idea…

Recently, in January 2023, the Kerala government announced menstrual leave. Prior to this, in 1992, the Bihar government had declared 2 days of menstrual leave a month. In 2017, the Menstrual; benefits bill was introduced in the parliament for both public and private employees. While in 2020, Zomato introduced menstrual leaves for up to 10 days a year for its women and transgender employees…

While I applaud the efforts to provide some sort of respite for women, I wonder if it’s all worth the hype and if it takes attention from other pertinent issues plaguing women in our society.

I have the following reasons for my reservations:

  1. The menstrual cycle very often isn’t a clockwork aspect. Some women even have a 25-day cycle and that makes it twice in the same month too. Some have irregular cycles. So how many days will the workplace grant her the leave?
  2. Very often women prefer to go to work as it is a welcome break from the chaos at home. If she stays at home, her workload doubles up. Women prefer predictability and camaraderie in the office, especially during the time of the month.
  3. Women today are globetrotting for work. I wonder if a period is a cause to postpone career-related goals in today’s times of women’s empowerment.
  4. With improvements in medical facilities, there are ways to provide comfort to women without side effects, during the period. If the problem is too severe in terms of bleeding and agonizing pain, then they have to get investigated medically, and leave alone will not suffice.
  5. some women have greater flow and agony compared to others… how will the demarcation then be? How do you judge the pain and discomfort quotient?
  6. What about homemakers, housemaids, and daily wage workers… how will the policy if approved be implemented for these folk who need it more?
  7. Menstrual talk is still taboo in our society. Most women don’t like to call for attention. Besides, there is a concern about entrenching existing biases against women.
  8. This can increase further discrimination in the workplace even to the extent of reduced hiring of women in a highly competitive world.
  9. Women themselves have refused even in countries like Japan and South Korea citing social stigma around the phenomenon.

Instead of medicalizing a normal biological-physiological phenomenon lets us instead,

  • Increase sensitivity among people around women. For instance, at home, the others around her can help her relax by taking over her responsibilities at least during the time of the month. Boys have to be sensitized from a young age about the turmoil faced by their mothers and sisters… It helps.
  • Encourage period talk in school as well as at home from a young age so the woman grows to consider it a normal occurrence and not a blot or social stigma.
  • There are many issues plaguing women, right from major gender bias from birth to, lack of choice for a career or even life partner. The pressure on a woman to produce a male heir even in educated households, the regular workload at home and workplace… where she struggles to maintain a work-home balance, childbirth, and her role in the upbringing of her children… The woman goes through major physical and mental metamorphoses throughout her life. Everyone around her needs to be sensitive about the same.
  • Mental health in women is often shoved under the carpet. Antenatal and postpartum depression aren’t discussed in the larger frame of things where a woman is a baby-making machine. We need to increase awareness in regard to the same.
  • Even today Dowry deaths, acid attacks, rapes, and murders top the list of crimes against women. Objectifying women in the garb of modernization has to stop. As a society, we haven’t matured.
  • Inheritance laws and divorce laws must be implemented so the women get their legal dues.
  • Medical facilities for women especially in remote towns and villages should be made available. Especially birth control or termination of pregnancies.
  • Sanitation is a very neglected area. Women across the country should have access to proper sanitation and hygiene. Especially during menstruation, like the availability of sanitary pads or the like.

All the above and more can bring about the needed respite for women. Like in others, in case of period leave too, women should have a choice. Normalizing the ‘period’ will go a long way in helping women.

 

Disclaimer: These are my views based on what I have been seeing and experiencing as a woman. It doesn’t intend to malign the gender or deprive a woman of her rights in any way.

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About the Author

Priya Gole

A pediatric speech-language pathologist by profession and a writer by passion! read more...

9 Posts | 4,999 Views

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