Painful menstruation or dysmenorrhea is something a large proportion of the female population suffers from, but the issue of granting period leave for working women and students is something that governments and employers have ignored.
A recent public interest litigation in the Supreme Court called for provision of period leave. After considering the matter, the apex court, on the intervention of an advocate that such a provision would adversely affect the employment of women in the private sector, left it to the government to take a policy decision on the issue.
Spain leads the way in period leave
Spain recently became the first European nation to introduce paid period leave for three to five days a month, but as far back as 1992, the Bihar government then-headed by Lalu Prasad Yadav had mandated two days of paid period leave monthly for women employees.
This year the Kerala government too made provision for such leave for women staff and students.
It is an issue that requires serious consideration in a country where the women workforce has shown a substantial increase despite the setback of the pandemic.
Men formulating rules for women’s reproductive rights
The travesty is that rules and regulations around women’s reproductive rights are being formulated by men who do not understand the female physiognomy or the unique nature of menstruation.
It is time the secrecy and stigma associated with menstruation is thrust aside in favour of a healthy approach to women’s problems.
Till a policy framework is devised, employers should take a more women-centric approach by allowing employees to work from home on those days, providing menstrual hygiene products in office spaces, and not treating the subject of menstruation as taboo. Some private companies already offer period leave to its employees.
It is time this is extended across the board. Over to the government for action on a long overdue need.
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