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Is the debate over menstrual leaves actually worth it?

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 12 March 2018, 13:29 IST

Menstrual leaves have become a national propaganda of sorts and are being discussed more than women’s wellbeing. What started as a positive movement to help women work better has now shifted its focus to political parties trying to gather votes through this sensitive issue. But, why is there so much hue and cry over such a natural phenomenon amongst women? Does it require all this attention? Do women really need an off every month? Let us find out:

A number of recent articles compared the excruciating pain experienced during periods to that experienced during heart attacks. However, there are two reasons due to which period pain is experienced.

The first one is known as dysmenorrhea, wherein women start feeling period pain right after they begin menstruating. But, this situation is not normal since period pains do not start two years after you begin menstruating. Due to the lack of research on this, this condition is still under study. The second reason is known as endometriosis which is a medical condition in which the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus. This needs medical attention right away as this can affect a woman’s fertility.

As per experts, when primary dysmenorrhea hits a woman, she may need to take a day off. This includes menstrual cramps, backache, nausea, slight fever and even weakness. Mood swings are a part of this process and no matter how hard a woman tries, it may be difficult for her to overcome these issues.

A new debate sparked in July 2017, when a media brand, Culture Machine, decided to give its female employees one day off every month on the first day of their period. This was followed by another company, Gozoop, opting the same practice.

However, this questioned the idea of equality on different levels. The most prominent argument that came forward was that not only does this move on menstrual leaves legitimizes gender discrimination in workplaces but also contradicts many women's rights movements which fight on the sole basis of equality. This could lead to companies not hiring female employees due to cost differences and increased sexists comments.

A surprise that came to most was that menstrual leaves have a provision in Bihar government since 1992. Therefore, leading to another argument, which justifies the idea behind paid menstrual leaves. Those for the motion speak for woman’s needs and that biologically women are not weaker but only different.

It is important to understand that every woman’s body is different and that the pain felt by one can be either severe or negligible based on this. Menstruation is not a handicap or disease that needs to be disguised under ‘that time of the month’, it is a natural process during which women can experience a range of emotions and physical discomforts.

If more emphasis and research is laid on menstrual pain and woman have a better understanding of their bodies, perhaps the provision for menstrual leaves will be looked at more prudently and not merely as a political agenda for parties to fight over.

First published: 12 March 2018, 13:29 IST