Social Issues

Paid Period Leave: A Necessity, Not a Luxury!

What do you think?

Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani, during a session at the Rajya Sabha, said that menstruation is a natural occurrence for women and that it shouldn’t be considered a handicap. She explicitly said that these were her personal views and that paid period leave may not be necessary as it might hinder equal opportunities for women. This was in response to a policy that was proposed regarding paid menstrual leave for working women.

This question has been lingering for years, but no proper action has been taken by the government or even corporate companies. Why should paid period leave become mandatory in India? This debate sparks questions from both sides, one that says at least 1 day of every month should be given as an option to menstruating women and the other, that is worried that this decision might affect their chances of equal opportunities.
That’s the tricky situation, women have fought the long fight and are now holding prominent positions in various government and corporate sectors. These policies are proposed to encourage more women to join the workforce but what if this hinders their chances of promotions or opportunities?

Periods can be mentally and physically agonising for some women. Women in the workforce have to bite their teeth and sit in an office for a whole day while suffering from pain and discomfort. But how many companies are actually ready to give their women those 12 days of paid leave in a year? When you get down to basics, this is just 1 day a month that we are talking about. Why is it such a difficult decision to make? Why does it boil down to the question of whether this is fair or not? Why are people asking if this ‘1 day’ will be misused?

Women have faced discrimination everywhere, from their own homes to public places, private to public sectors, a step like this only ensures that we are being heard. There is discrimination already, women who are married, or are mothers are given fewer opportunities when compared to a man. When the decisions and actions have not been fair towards our gender for so long, why is that 1 day a question of partiality towards women?

We are a developing country and there has been a rise in women’s engagement in the national workforce to 37 percent in 2022-2023. This plays a major role in the socio-economic advancement of the nation. This has become possible as more companies are providing an inclusive and supportive environment for women. Equal opportunities and treatment ensure more women join the workforce.
The idea of paid period leave will strengthen this stance and encourage more women to work jobs. Creating a mandate for 10-12 days of paid period leave for women is a step towards recognising their needs. The government doesn’t hesitate to collect taxes from these menstruation products but is debating whether to give paid leave for the same. The double standards are what’s alarming. And when such a statement is coming from a woman, we wonder how we will collectively fight as a gender for our needs and requirements.
Even when it comes to maternity leave, a lot of companies subtly ask women to quit jobs and rejoin when they are ready to join full-time. Women have been fighting the system for years now and as a result, are opting to stay home. But there are companies who stand as a positive example. A lot of Indian companies provide their women employees with 1-2 days of period leave every month. For example, Swiggy and Zomato, Mathrubhumi, Kerala-based media organisation, Magster, etc have their company’s policies going strong.
The topic of the period is still taboo, it’s kept under wraps. Most of us won’t even know if our co-worker is dealing with her monthly cycle. It has been stigmatized to no limits. This debate will help break that stigma, will help in evolving, and will help in creating a positive work environment. This doesn’t just help women, this helps in the overall growth of our society. We are setting the bar, we are responsible for creating a more inclusive space for all.




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