The answer to the question, "should women get period leaves?" is something on which there have been countless discussions across the world. Some Asian countries like Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and Indonesia have paid periods or menstruation leaves for menstruating female employees.
Many people believe that period leaves could increase gender disparity in workplaces. There are other groups of people who say that period leaves are necessary. They state that it would help in removing the stigma looming around menstruation. Many present leaves for periods as necessary by basing menstruation as a biological condition, which is a strong point.
So, are they necessary or not? Let's have a look!
A few days back, a Delhi-based labor Union filed a plea in the Delhi High Court. They requested paid period leaves for female employees. They suggested that the enterprises have to provide overtime allowance for women who work during their periods. Zomato came up with their decision to provide paid period leaves to their female employees in August 2020.
However, even before Zomato took the initiative, the Bihar government provided period leaves to women since the 1990s. In 2017, an Indian media start-up granted period leave to women on the "first day of their period."
As mentioned earlier, there are different dimensions of looking into the notion of period leaves. Here are some of them!
All women are different, and their bodily functions also vary. Around 20% of women face severe cramps during their periods. It is a condition known as Dysmenorrhea. Many women face Pre-Menstrual Syndromes as well. Many women are working in rural areas and other places with no access to a washroom or sanitary products. As per the UN, 20% of girls in India drop out of their schools after attaining puberty. However, many women do not face any difficulties during their menstrual cycle.
There are countless myths and stigmas associated with menstruation. Indian communities frame women as impure during their menstrual days. Lack of knowledge and awareness of menstruation are the main reasons for such misconceptions. Many believe that providing menstrual leaves to women can help build the conversation on menstruation.
During periods, women often hide their sanitary pads or menstrual products from others. Many women find it hard to talk about menstruation in the open. If period leaves can help people recognize and normalize menstruation, it would be highly beneficial. It would enhance the work culture and would also help men understand womanhood. Menstruation is a sign that shows a woman is healthy. It does not mean that she is ill.
Gender inequality is a widespread issue in India. Many women face gendered violence in their workspaces. Many people find that providing menstrual leaves to women would create gender inequality. They believe that it would cause a reduction of opportunities for women and would also result in increasing gender-based discrimination. However, it is essential to embrace the physical differences of each individual.
However, some critics have stated that women can avail themselves of sick leave during their menstrual cycle. Others strongly support the need to start period leaves as a measure to empower women. Most women feel discomfort, cramps, and less productive during their periods. Period leaves would be helpful for women facing these issues.
Period leaves can in no way be a step down for women. It would help men understand that it is just a biological condition. Most women feel that availing period leaves would affect their position in their work. Many fear chances of losing their opportunities and even their career. As mentioned earlier, one size does not fit all. Many offices provide a very comfortable and relaxing work environment.
But, there are several workplaces without any sanitation facilities for women. These factors put menstrual hygiene and well being of women employees at risk. Most women have cramps and pain during their first two days of periods. Many face the same throughout their menstrual cycle.
How can we overcome these disparities and create a norm of period leaves that can solve the issue?
Improving flexibility could be a solution. There can be others as well. What do you think?
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