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“A bill, The Menstruation Bill 2017, has been proposed in the Lok Sabha that proposes two days of paid leave every month for the women workers. It would benefit the women employees to get breaks on their period” reported a news anchor on the television.
“Mom, are we too weak to handle our period that we require leaves every month” asked her daughter who had recently hit puberty. Her eyes went red and her face flushed. She was enraged to hear that. It was a struggle she had undergone to raise her daughter believing women and men were equal. And, now this!
She instantly dived into the thoughts of her puberty days. She had fought a battle to be treated as a normal on the days she was on her periods. Her grandmother would banish her from the kitchen and she would fight with her mother to get the pickle from the jar herself. She felt excluded from her own house on those days.
She fought a long battle to protect her daughter against these exclusions and now, it was all repeating itself. Two days of paid menstruation leave – is it not the modern day version of excluding the woman on her periods?
Women have been fighting for decades to be treated as equal. We demand equality in our workplaces not concessions based on biological differences.
Women do not need bills to provide them exclusive policies instead, we need more inclusive policies that help us fit in. The two days menstruation leave policy is more likely to pull women down rather benefiting. Already, the employers make a big fuss while hiring married women on the basis of them going for maternity leave. Two long days of leave from the workplace is more likely to become a de-selection criteria.
Yes, period pain interferes with the activities of the women but the pain is enervating only for 20% of women. Most of the women are good to go after a dose of meftal.
It has taken us decades to eventually move to a world that is now at least talking about periods as normal. And, the journey to break the shackles around this taboo has been an excruciating one. This idea of paid menstruation leave would only perpetuate the idea that menstruation is a disease that require medication and rest. And, hence we would be back to square one leaving the young girls to prepare for the same battle all over again.
Periods are nothing but womanhood, we have been long ridiculed for. The paid leaves will give the men another chance to consider us weak and ridicule us.We do not want leaves on our periods; we want equality. We want a world where the female experience is cherished without any PMS joke.
The absenteeism from work every two days would give chance to our colleagues to talk about us an our periods. Yes, we are proud of our periods but we do not want it to be a topic of discussion in the office cafeterias. We want to deal with our periods on our own privately and it would be an intrusion into our private spaces if we have to announce to the world and take menstruation leaves.
Every month we go through the menstruation cramps and the fear of staining our favourite sheets but we still embrace our feminism with pride and grace.
The bill also seeks to provide better facilities at workplace.
Now, this one is quite logical. Hygiene is a big issue for women – on periods or not. Moreover, the female body is more prone to catching infections while on periods. Cleaner and disinfected toilets would help us work better by providing us hygienic spaces.
The taboo around menstruation has started to lift off its dark wings, it is time we talk about more inclusive policies that promote the employment of more women. Indian women working in the services and industry is only 20%. The major jobs remain only in the agricultural sectors. It is baffling to know that India ranks 120th among 131 nations among women workforce despite having 42% women graduates.
The question to ponder is not whether menstruation leave is a necessity, it is how we can make workplaces safer for our women so that they come out and work more efficiently.
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