Should women have menstrual leave or not? Some women want it, many also don't. There are those who don't want to have a opinion o menstrual leave needs of others. Menstrual leaves for working women has become one of the most debatable topics in the job world. And Member of Parliament, Shashi Tharoor's recent tweet added more debate to the Indian commentary on it. Tharoor wrote: "Let's create gender-inclusive workplaces in India," while referring to the below petition.
Menstrual Leave For Women’ by all Private and Public Employers, in addition to the sick leave in India. All employed women in India should have an option to take ‘work from home’ or ‘leave with pay’ for two days every month, by private and public employers.
His tweet, however, attracted a divided response on why or why not should menstrual leaves be granted. Twist in the tale is that men, who certainly don't know what women go through during menses, had an opinion as well.
Since menstruation is a woman's thing, it is important that their voices be heard. We spoke to working women about their take on menstrual leaves. A quick survey among seven girls who work with me shows there is a fifty fifty split in the view. Here's why they feel menstrual leaves should be given:
Should Definitely Be An Option
Though we pretend things are normal, women do have to go through a lot during menses, at least for the first two days. It becomes difficult for many of us to be working with the same efficiency as we do during the normal days. Madhvi Shridhar, Systems Engineer at Infosys Ltd says, "I think it depends on the woman. Not everyone goes through a lot of pain, so some might choose to not take a leave, but majority go through a lot. I think they should be given a leave or should be allowed to work from home atleast. I personally, could never attend office, few of my colleagues would miss office too and all our leaves for the quarter used to get exhausted just like that."
Anubha Das, Content Writer at AdLift says, "Yes, women should be given menstrual leaves. For the first day, atleast. Rest, I don't think so. If not this, atleast work from home should be allowed."
Mood Swings Make It Harder To Work
One of the most common issues with women, while they're on their menses, is mood swings. No matter whatever the job position be, a working professional is always required to behave well, and be soft. But is it that easy with mood swings? Tanima Chakraborty, working at Bank of India, says, " Yes, menstrual leaves should be given. I work in a public sector bank where we have to attend numerous customers. Here, we have to be soft-spoken, no matter whatever the situation is. As all know, during the period, women go through cramps, vomiting, etc., which further results in mood swings. Still, we have to handle customers with the same enthusiasm and that's very much difficult."
Shikha Prabha Gupta, Business Development Associate at Bolo Apps says, "Women have mood swings in this period including a lot of irritation and anxiety. In case of work pressure, it becomes more difficult for them to work in such period cramps. Women know their dates and if pain occurs, they can ask their HRs to grant a one day or two day leave"
Work From Home Is A Better Option
Abhilasha Kukreja, Market Research Associate at IBM India Pvt Ltd. says, " I believe work from home is a better option. Because when you take a leave solely for your menses, there are chances that you'll be looked down on by your colleagues. In a country which suffers from gender inequality, pay disparity, the stigma around menstruation, this measure just instigates everything and makes the fairer sex to appear weak and more of burden, considering one or the other woman would be down and hence seek a leave"
Alisha Allagh, Lead Audit Associate, Ernst & Young GDS, says, " Keeping a record of every female employees' menstrual cycle in a company is insane. Moreover, any girl can easily fake it and hence menstrual leaves will be more of a privilege to women who do not go through much during their menses. Therefore, a work from home option will be better."
But What About The Undue Advantage?
Menstrual cramps differ from woman to woman. Some go through severe pain, while some do not even feel the pain and menses are completely normal for them. At this point, menstrual leaves would be nothing but a privilege for the latter category. Priyanka Kadalage, Work Flow Specialist at Tata Consultancy Services says, " Many girls need a leave during their menses. But then, many can also take an advantage of that. It is not painful for every girl. For these girls, it might be just an undue advantage."
Overall, the concept of menstrual leaves comes with a lot of ifs and buts. In India, where menstruation has long been a taboo, many women still don't talk openly on the topic. Therefore, menstrual leaves might either force them to disclose their period dates, or they won't be able to avail the benefit. Moreover, instead of leaves, there can be an option for women to shift their weekend offs to the dates they have periods, and this way, neither will they require a leave, nor will there be any sort of issue with the work cycle.