NEWSMAKER OF THE MONTH
Menstruation leave, which is already part of the leave policy in several nations like South Korea, Italy and Japan, seems to be making inroads in India as well. For some women, the first day of their period is extremely painful–to the extent that it renders them immobile. Working women find it hard to ask for a day-off on the first day of their periods as they are expected to “man up” to the pain and also because talking about menstruation is still an embarrassing topic in India.
No matter how small, the change has finally come. Culture Machine, a company based in Mumbai has sparked the debate of workplaces granting women period/menstruation leave, yet again, by making first day of period leave a reality in India. If implemented, this leave will come as a relief to scores of working women across the country who have to overcome their period pains every month to go to work. ‘First day of period’ will serve as a valid reason to not come to office. Following this, many more companies have acknowledged the First Day of Period leave policy.
A recent research states that, period pain can be as bad as having a heart attack. Men wait an average of 49 minutes before being treated for abdominal pain. For women, the wait is 65 minutes for the same symptoms.
It is thought that this is because women are seen as exaggerating pain and being ‘dramatic’ due to sexist stereotypes, while men are listened to and believed when they express the same pain and symptoms. Given that India has already legitimized a 6-month maternal leave policy, if it were to even consider a menstrual leave law, the demand for female employees among companies is most likely to decrease, or, women could be further penalized both in terms of salary and career advancement. The logic is simple: If women were granted extra days of paid leave, employers could become more inclined to hire men rather than women. Culture Machine has also started an online petition on change.org to legitimise menstruation leave where they had received more than thirty thousand signatures.