Menstrual cramps have been compared to having a heart attack in a study done by the University College of London. In India, women make up 50% of the labour population. As we advance, India must recognize their requirements and provide them with an equitable platform to demonstrate their talents. One of the most contentious issues worldwide is menstrual absence. Menstruating women can choose to take this type of leave and remain at home if they wish. A policy is known as “menstrual leave” enables women to take unpaid or paid leave from labour when they are having uncomfortable menstrual symptoms.
This implies that female workers can take time off from the workplace without worrying about losing pay or receiving disciplinary action if they experience discomfort, pain, or additional symptoms related to their menstruation period. This suggests that female employees are free to take time off work if they experience pain, discomfort, or other symptoms linked to their period without fear of losing pay or facing disciplinary action.
Why in the news?
The Supreme Court recently declined to hear a petition concerning menstrual leave for employees and students nationwide, noting it as a policy issue. It stressed that menstruation was a biological process and that taking this time off could discourage employers from hiring women. Menstrual leave for employees and students has been discussed for centuries, but even in feminist circles, these policies are unfair and polarizing.
A law enacted in Spain on February 16 made it the first nation in Europe to offer paid menstrual or period leaves. After a doctor’s letter is presented, the government will pay for the monthly paid leaves of three to five days.
What attempts are being made in India?
Some businesses have implemented menstrual leave policies in India as well. The most well-known example is Zomato, which in 2020 revealed a 10-day paid period of leave per year. According to Time, 621 workers have taken more than 2,000 days of vacation since the policy’s implementation. Others, like Swiggy and Byjus, have done the same. According to the petition filed with the Supreme Court, Bihar and Kerala are the only State administrations to grant women menstrual leave.
- The menstrual leave policy, which the Bihar government instituted in 1992, grants workers two days of paid menstrual leave each month.
- The Kerala government recently declared that the state’s Department of higher education will now permit university students to take menstrual and maternity leaves.
The majority of the Parliament’s actions have been unsuccessful.
- For instance, the 2017 Menstruation Benefits Bill was presented in Parliament but was ignored because it was considered an impure subject.
- Later, in 2018, a bill to protect women’s sexual, reproductive, and menstrual rights was proposed, but it was not passed.
The Right of Women to Menstrual Leave and Free Access to Menstrual Health Products Bill, 2022, will be presented to Parliament, though, once more.
- For women and transwomen, it stipulates three days of paid vacation for menstruation.
- Additionally, it aims to increase the advantage for students.
- According to the bill, nearly 65% of girls who skip school because of their periods said it affected their daily school activities. Around 40% of girls miss school because of their periods.
What kind of menstrual leave policies are in place globally?
- Spain: Among several other sexual health liberties, Spain recently made history by becoming the first nation in Europe to offer paid menstrual leave to employees. Workers now have a monthly right to three days of menstruation leave, with the option to increase that to five days.
- Japan: After the concept gained popularity among labour organizations in the 1920s, it included menstrual leave as a part of its labour legislation in 1947. Employers are currently prohibited from asking women who are going through tough times to work during those times under Article 68.
- Indonesia: The country established a rule in 1948 that was revised in 2003 stating that employees who are having menstrual pain are not required to work the first two days of their cycle.
- Philippines: Each month, employees are allowed two days of menstrual vacation in the Philippines.
- Taiwan: The country has a law governing gender parity in the workplace. Every month, employees have the option to take one day off on period leave for half of their regular pay. The maximum number of such leaves per year is three; additional leaves qualify as sick leave.
- Zambia: Among the countries in Africa, Zambia instituted Mother’s Day as a day off without a valid excuse or medical certificate.
- Others: The petition also made note of menstrual leave policies in Wales, Wales, and the United Kingdom.
It describes workplace practices that permit both paid and unpaid leave, as well as downtime for rest.
Menstrual cycle: The female reproductive system’s uterus and ovaries undergo a series of normal changes that affect hormone production, making pregnancy feasible.
It Is a relatively new concept and is not yet widely available, but it has gained attention in recent years as more countries and companies consider its implementation. For several millennia, the idea of menstrual leave for employees and students has been debated. Even in feminist circles, such policies are unjust and the topic of considerable discussion.