According to reports, a sitting MP from Arunachal Pradesh has filed the “Menstruation Benefit Bill, 2017”.
The Menstruation Benefit Bill entitles women working as an employee in any public/ private organization with two days of paid menstrual leave every month. The intention behind the bill is to give rest to women who face problems like heavy bleeding and painful cramps during periods.
Interesting private members bill- Ninong Ering, MP from Arunachal Pradesh has filed the "Menstruation Benefit Bill, 2017. The bill entitles women working as an employee in any public/ private organization with two days of paid menstrual leave every month.
— Marya Shakil (@maryashakil) January 2, 2018
While many women rights activists have advocated the bill in the past, it seems both the genders have varying takes on what this bill may lead to.
These bills are not 'empowerment' but 'segregation' suggesting that women are indeed weak and cannot handle even regular biological events.
— Navin Srivastava (@navinks) January 2, 2018
Utter nonsense. Women can't claim equality & whine like sissies every month. Women's rights activists are making women unemployable in a competitive environment! #Pukeworthy
— Sujata Suri (@sujatasuri) January 2, 2018
Periods are an inseparable part of every woman’s life. But just like all of us have unique body structures, our experiences during those five days can vary from being on death-bed to just meh. Some women experience little or no flow of blood during periods. Many experience only mild discomfort, whereas others experience blinding pain and cramps. Many have a regular schedule for their menses, while some might struggle every month with disorders like PCOD.
Hence, for any woman to pass a judgement on another’s discomfort is as misplaced as a man’s opinion on the said issue.
So it seems marginally wrong for a woman who can salsa her way through periods to say, “What is the big deal with periods? Stop crying over it every month!” Maybe the receiver of your comment currently feels that her ovaries are about to explode. Yes, it is that bad for some. And such women do need to rest during “that time of the month”.
However, those who oppose this bill, do make some valid points. There are a handful of women, who might try to misuse the bill.
On the other hand, companies might feel inclined to hire lesser female workers because the Menstruation Benefit Bill will cost them 24 days’ worth of work in a year.
This bill might prove to be their weapon to wield against us during our fight for equal pay at the workplace.
Further, it might also alienate male co-workers from female counterparts, as the additional workload will end up on their shoulders. That doesn’t mean that this bill is entirely misplaced. For women, who experience health problems like menorrhagia, dysmenorrhea, low blood pressure, etc, due to periods (and not just discomfort), this bill would mean that they will be able to take some much-deserved rest.
The menstrual leaves should be optional for women. They should also try not to abuse this period of rest given to them.
Also, men need to be educated in offices as to why this bill is important for their female colleagues. Without a functional uterus, we cannot expect them to sympathise much with us. But we can at least try to bring them on the same page.
All public and private organisations should keep in mind that it is the quality of work that matters. They need to have a liberal woman-centric approach to this issue.
Dr Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own