10 Women Share How They Feel About 'Period Leave'

Pooja Maheshwary , 20 Aug 2020
'Should period leave be given?' by Yeexin Richelle | www.shutterstock.com
‘Should period leave be given?’ by Yeexin Richelle | www.shutterstock.com

I’m sure by now everyone has heard about Zomato‘s new 10-days-a-year ‘period leave’ policy for women and transgender people. This policy that hopes to break the stigma around menstruation, has sparked a debate amongst women—while some celebrated this move, others criticised it on the grounds that it could increase the possibility of discriminatory hiring policies within organisations.

Since we often have discussions across burning topics on Malini’s Girl Tribe, we took to the Facebook community to understand better how women really feel about the ‘period leave’ policy. We asked them to share their thoughts, and they had a lot to say! Read on to know more.

1. It’s a blessing!

Suffering from period pains is terrible. Those who go through it, know. I’ve missed school on all the first days of my periods. I used to roll and cry in pain and took Spasmoproxivon in my teenage years. Also the flow was so heavy that I used to often stain my school skirt (thankfully, it was navy blue).

I took sick leaves during the first few years of working too. Then, post-marriage and delivery, the pain went away. Being given the privilege to take leave doesn’t mean that all women will take it. Those who go through terrible pain will avail this. As it is in our jobs, we don’t take unnecessary leaves because we have targets and appraisals.  I think this is a good initiative by Zomato, and I hope that other corporates will take it up too.

2. What’s the big deal?

I think our farmer women, workers, labourers, maids, everyone works on all days. Let’s take inspiration from them. We forget the strength of the woman when we make policies like these. If the woman is having too much trouble with her “health”…let her apply for and take the usual “medical” leave. I have worked throughout my periods and pregnancy and postpartum, and I can assure you…it is perfectly manageable.

3. Just increase the number of sick leaves!

As a doctor, dermatologist, and a daughter of a gynaecologist, I feel the experience of periods is extremely different and variable for each girl. While many girls are incapacitated during those few days or for one day during their periods, at the same time there are many who don’t feel any problem or feel mild bearable discomfort during their periods. Some don’t even get regular periods or have periods that are longer than the 30-day cycle. I personally could participate in competitive swimming and athletic sports during my periods. So, generalising the issue and differentiating between the genders based on this is not at all justified. I believe if girls feel unwell during these days, they can claim their sick leave. The number of those can be optionally increased rather than reducing productive working days for each and every girl.

4. Taboo no more!

I think it should be appreciated. The choice is on women whether they want to take the leave or not. I have personally worked through period days and pregnancy. However, some days I felt like it was my last because of the pain. It’s not the same for all women. The pain and intensity vary. So, for the sake of the new generation, I am extremely glad this topic is being destigmatised, that awareness is being spread, and all we need to do is support these kinds of initiatives. It’s not just about that one ‘period leave’. This has opened conversations about a taboo topic. So yes, I’m elated!

5. Hiring policies would be affected!

I feel employers will hesitate to hire women if they have to give ‘period leave’ because not all organisation can afford to have the women force take two days of leave every month. Anyway, gender equality in the workplace is the question. With this, it will become difficult for women who want to climb up the ladder.

6. What about the house help?

When our grandmothers used to take a break from all the chores and rest, they were called regressive and patriarchs. Also somehow the whole concept of menstruation was turned into “impure” and “dirty” just because women used to isolate themselves. But when corporates want to give women a day off during periods, all of a sudden it’s progressive and feminist? Also for most of us, we can take sick leave if we cannot go to work. We have access to a better quality of life like medications, hot water bag, work from home option, etc. If it is indeed made a policy, more than us, women who work in housekeeping departments must be given an off. Unlike us, they do a lot of physically strenuous work and are more deserving. Also, we must give our maids 2-3 days off every month when they menstruate. After all, charity begins at home.

7. Periods are natural, we shouldn’t use them as an excuse!

This is my personal opinion entirely and I have been of this opinion since I was 15. I am absolutely am against it. Yes, periods are hard but they are a part of who we are and hence we should be able to work in this world without using it as an excuse. Besides, there are numerous issues about inequality in India that have forever been around and are still not talked about enough whilst this has become a trending topic about equality for women. How are we supposed to be treated as equals in a man’s world if we are not even ready to sacrifice a little for that equality?

8. It’s discriminatory against men

I feel this will be grossly misused. It calls for discrimination against male employees who do not even get 30-day paternity leave. Yes, they don’t get periods but that doesn’t mean they can’t have extra time off to relax or spend time with family. What’s welcome is that organisations should not shy away from acknowledging the fact that women employees do take leaves to deal with their periods and have to lie about them. So instead create a ‘period leave’ that can be covered within the ’30 days leave’ policy, and women don’t have to lie or make excuses. And if one has to give an extra 10 days, it should be given to men as well, even if it means in terms of furlough. To categorise it as ‘period leave’, seems that we as women accept the notion that we can’t work during periods, aren’t effective or can’t make decisions because of our mood swings. Something that we have been trying to fight as well.

9. It’s my choice

The provision should be there, and it’s for the women to decide whether they would like to avail it or not.

10. A win for feminism!

10 days in a year is not going to matter to any company if that increases the productivity of and satisfaction of an employee! I feel that it’s long due and finally a normal biological routine that causes distress is being acknowledged. This is very Feminist for me and I am happy. This shows movement towards equality where something that is biology for women is accepted! There are so so many women who have really difficult periods… endometriosis, extreme PMS, etc. and this is such a blessing. Now we have a rightful leave! It’s same as maternity leave! Just because it happens to a women’s body, it is granted for recovery. Menstruation leave is similar, so why not a recovery/rest day IF YOU NEED IT!

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