What Women Really Think About Smriti Irani's Menstrual Leave Remark?

Union Women and Child Development (WCD) Minister Smriti Irani's recent statement challenging the need for a specific policy on paid menstrual leave has ignited a fierce debate, leaving the internet divided.

Oshi Saxena
New Update
Women By STP

Union Women and Child Development (WCD) minister Smriti Irani's recent statement in Rajya Sabha challenging the need for specific policies on menstrual leave has ignited a widespread debate. Irani contends that menstruation is a natural part of a woman's life journey and shouldn't be treated as a 'handicap' requiring special provisions. This perspective has sparked diverse reactions, with some asserting the importance of acknowledging the unique challenges faced by menstruating women.


The internet is now divided, with women expressing a spectrum of opinions. SheThePeople exclusively gathered reactions on social media and conducted interviews to delve deeper into the varied perspectives.

Irani's Perspective On Menstrual Leave

Irani emphasized, "As a menstruating woman, menstruation and the menstruation cycle is not a handicap; it's a natural part of a woman's life journey." She further argued against proposing issues that could deny equal opportunities to women based on a viewpoint detached from the menstruation experience.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reports that more than half of menstruating women experience period pain, with some finding it severe enough to hinder normal activities for days.

Despite a growing focus on safeguarding sexual and reproductive rights, the Supreme Court recently refused a PIL advocating for menstrual pain leave, placing the responsibility on the central government. Irani's stance seems to dismiss the possibility of a menstrual leave policy in India, labelling it a far-fetched reality.

Social Media Echoes


Menstruation: A Natural Phenomenon Or Workplace Challenge?

Irani's statement sparked a flurry of reactions on social media, with opinions ranging from support to outright disagreement.

  1. "damagedgoods": "It would've been paid leave if men had periods. Just saying."
  2. Sandhyaanantani: "This is an excerpt from a bigger conversation. She is talking about men and women having equal opportunities and employers not prioritizing female employees. Completely misquoted here."
  3. Tanisha_ag: "Ummm still not fair. We need equity. Organizations have always tried not to have women in their workforce. This does not mean we stop fighting for equity."
  4. 1_krtika_0_0: "Why should the employer lose his productivity because of your personal problem? It's common sense. Have seen women like you who don't even consider paid pregnancy leaves for their house help."
  5. Drshivaniguptaborele: "Totally agree with her. Menstruation is not a disability. Stop making it an excuse. If anyone is having difficult menstruation, they must be provided leave but not paid one."
  6. Momuninterrupted Amrita T Saraf: "Internalized misogyny is always refreshing."
  7. Nehaaafreen: "One may argue that women are strong enough to bear the pain, but isn't it only another form of glorifying my pain?"
  8. justprithings: "Guys come on, I’m seeing many women supporting such statements, which is so annoying. So pathetic."
  9. Tackoverflow: "It's high time we build society around women's comfort like we have made them around men's comfort."
  10. Div_yeah21: "That's totally fine... But men should also be equally eligible for the same number of paid leaves as women."
  11. Prakrutii369': "Women having to get paid leaves is not a luxury. It's just a small attempt to respect the different biological needs of a woman."
  12. Exoticradhe: "Women are strong enough to deal with menstruation. Not all women go through this period pain thing. It's a part of our life, and we know how to deal with it."
  13. Sonam_era: "We should get leave because there are many women who suffer from a lot of pain during those days."
  14. Ankita.rv: "If men had to suffer through menstrual cramps and mood swings every month, there would be 10 times more cases of unprovoked murders and other cringed."
  15. Shalomnathan: Talk about having endometriosis or PCOS/PCOD. If we don't become inclusive of women's medical conditions, then we fail utterly as a progressive and inclusive society.
  16. Aneri__1966: "Honestly, she is right. If women started taking 5 days paid leave per month, it will lead to recruitment of fewer women in jobs."
  17. Saundii: "If we can recognize that women experience unbearable pain at least one day every month, what’s wrong with giving them an off day for that day?
  18. Cassidy_shubhs: "Every body is different. Women deserve rest on days we aren't feeling up to the mark."
  19. If we can recognize that women experience unbearable pain at least one day every month, what’s wrong with giving them an off day for that day?"
  20. lets.bodytalk - it’s not a handicap but in some ways, I guess it is for the initial days. The pain is recorded to be as bad as a heart attack. Women go through a lot of aches, brain fog, and moods due to the hormones and hence should be given support by giving paid leave.

What Do Men Have To Say About Menstrual Leave Policy? 

  • Seph__jo: "Menstrual leave should be granted, so that women can manage their menstrual health without the fear of negative consequences."
  • Borade_avadhut0906: "While Smriti Irani emphasizes that menstruation should not be considered a handicap, critics argue that acknowledging and addressing menstrual hygiene through policies can create a more supportive environment for women."
  • A.k.sinhaaa: "Periods come every month, and if every woman would be granted leave every month, it will hamper the work both economically and statistically!"

Women Speak, Will Society Listen?


SheThePeople exclusively reached out to a diverse group of women to capture their unfiltered reactions to Irani's perspective.

Sakshi Gangwar opens up about the intertwined nature of menstruation and femininity. She contends that menstruation is not merely a physical process but a manifestation of a woman's identity. "Menstruation is not a ‘part of us,’ or a separate entity in our body. Menstruation makes us a feminine being."

Gangwar goes on to share a profound personal sentiment, expressing how Irani's words felt like a rejection of womanhood. "When Smriti said what she said, it felt like my own mother just didn’t accept me as a woman."

Shreya Dogra presents a forward-thinking perspective, advocating for the introduction of paid menstrual leave. Dogra sees this policy as a positive step that could normalize discussions around periods in the workspace and, by extension, in Indian society. "Introducing paid menstrual leave is a step in the right direction." She emphasizes the potential benefits of allowing women to take a day or more off to recover from the challenges of painful periods. Drawing attention to global examples, Dogra mentions countries like Spain, Japan, and Indonesia, which have implemented such policies, viewing them as a win-win situation for both employees and employers.

Kriti Puri dispels any attempt to compare maternity leave with period pain. Sharing the intensity of her personal experience, she vividly describes the challenges she faces due to her genetically heavier blood flow. "I bleed through a freakin diaper on days 1 and 2 because I genetically have a heavier blood flow. Some people could be going through worse than I am, and that’s where they need it more."

Challenging the notion that menstruation is the only time women fight for pay equity, Puri presents a comprehensive view of the struggles women face in various aspects of their professional lives. She suggests alternative approaches like a work-from-home policy to address both productivity and the health of employees.


Swadha Shankar sheds light on her dual stance on the matter. While expressing her preference for paid menstrual leave, she critically examines Irani's assertion about equal opportunities. Shankar sees a societal norm at play that downgrades menstruation, especially for women. "As a female, I would always prefer paid leave for menstruation. I cannot lie about it. This is a societal norm and evil that the world will again point at women and start downgrading menstruation as we are still living in a man's world."

She highlights the potential discrimination women face in workplaces due to toxic "hustle" cultures that fail to recognize the medical reasons behind menstrual leave.

Apurva Adhikari draws attention to the lack of awareness regarding period abnormalities. She highlights the serious medical conditions like amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, and endometriosis that lead to unbearable pain and blood flow. "There are cases where girls faint because of excessive blood loss or due to low hemoglobin levels. If just a couple of days a month can give them a chance to rest and restart, then what's the harm?"

Adhikari advocates for understanding these conditions and emphasizes the significance of providing women with a chance to rest and restart without jeopardizing their careers.

From arguments for gender equity to concerns about workplace productivity, women across the nation have voiced their opinions. Perhaps the key lies in finding a balance—a solution that recognizes the unique challenges faced by women while ensuring that policies promote inclusivity without compromising on workplace dynamics.

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