India as a country has seen quite a few progressive/regressive changes in the recent past and hopefully the progressive list would increase in the coming days. However, there are certain issues that have always been a taboo in our country and one such issue is of ‘Menstruation’, more commonly called periods. It is very difficult to have an open discussion about it as people seem to get extremely uncomfortable and prefer to discuss it behind closed doors.
Historically, women were contemplated as inferior to men due to the ubiquitous patriarchal society. They were deprived of various opportunities due to male domination. Contemporaneously, women are vested with equal rights. Nevertheless, they still face the challenges to keep up their status while ignoring other important facets like working during menstruation. Period pain or dysmenorrhea affects nearly 50% of women in the world.1 It causes headaches, abdominal cramps, sluggishness, anxiety, loss of energy, nausea, etc. Moreover, the situation becomes excruciating for women, when they have to toil during dysmenorrhea. Therefore, it becomes pivotal to acknowledge the significance of period leaves.
Menstruation is considered a taboo topic in many sections of Indian society, and rarely discussed openly in personal or professional settings. The time has come to seriously consider introducing a law that makes it mandatory for employers to grant women menstrual leave.
Amid all the chatter revolving around menstruation, for working women, the question of providing period leave to women holds a lot of significance. A few years back a Mumbai-based digital media company announced that all female employees working in the company will be allowed to take a leave on the first day of their period each month.
It was indeed a progressive move that acknowledged the different requirements of women. Period pain is a real issue that needs more thought and empathetic treatment.
Getting time off from work during your period might sound radical – but it’s not such a new idea. In some countries, it’s been common practice for decades. 30%-40% of all people who have a period suffer from severe pain and other symptoms every month. Several studies show that menstrual cramps are responsible for an average of nine days of lost productivity per year
Companies are now joining in. Indian food delivery app Zomato introduced period leave in 2020, and we followed shortly afterwards, introducing 10 days of paid period leave per year. Zomato, a global food-delivery company based in India, drew praise for introducing the policy. Its chief executive says there is no “shame or stigma” in applying for the time off. Zomato, put to its 4,000 employees, 35 percent of whom are women, in announcing a new paid period leave policy for employees on Saturday. The policy, not common among large global companies, allows up to 10 days of period leave a year and applies to transgender employees
The policy is considered a bold move in tackling an age-old taboo in India, where 71 percent of young women remain unaware of menstruation until their first cycle, according to UNICEF.
Period leave is not an approbation leave; it’s a way to concede the affliction. Such leave can prove to be advantageous for women, in the following ways;
1. Promoting their health: Period leaves purport women health as it helps them to rest during dysmenorrhea, avoiding physical and psychological exertion.
2. Providing them with better hygiene: Public toilets do not ensure a hygienic environment, consequently maximizing several health issues. Hence, period leaves will accredit women to stay at home by ensuring better hygiene.
3. Ensuring ease of communication: Presently, the women either take leave during period pain by the excuse of bad health or they prefer to work by suffering the pain silently. Therefore, the period leaves will enable them to communicate easily for taking leaves
4. Enabling better understanding of menstruation: The period leaves can lead to a better understanding among the society of the periods, which is a biological phenomenon. People will get acquainted with the importance of such leaves.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.
We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge