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News18 » Lifestyle
4-min read

Men And Women Answer: Do Women Actually Need A 'Period Leave'?

The period leave debate is on!

Shifa Khan | News18.com

Updated:July 18, 2017, 6:02 PM IST
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Men And Women Answer: Do Women Actually Need A 'Period Leave'?
Representative Image: Getty Images

Cramps and pain are the blight of a women’s existence, thanks to the monthly visits from Aunt Flo, the unbearable pain of menstruation. Even the women who have relatively pain-free periods do find it stressful to deal with the strain of commuting to work and then spending several hours stuck in a chair at the work desk. First Day of Period Leave entails an optional day off every month, on the first day of a woman's period, owing to the discomfort and painful cramps that come in tow with the red devil every month.

First things first, for the uninitiated, India is not the one to start the trend. Countries like South Korea, Indonesia, China, Taiwan and Japan have been offering period leave to women for years now. Nike introduced menstrual leave in their code of conduct worldwide in 2007 and ensures that all maintain the company’s standards. A Digital Media startup, Culture Machine, headquartered in Mumbai, implemented a policy, allowing women employees to take a day off on the first day of their period. Culture Machine did not stop at its own office; they have launched a Change.org petition for First Day of Period (#FOPLeave) to be offered to women across the subcontinent.

Women hesitate to use their regular leave during their period, but when they go to work, they cannot be at their productive best due to the physical discomfort. You can find women doubled over in a lot of pain. They feel guilty and ashamed for taking time off and often sit at their desks in silence not wanting to acknowledge it. While menstruating, many women who are in pain, who are very uncomfortable, who have a heavy flow that is difficult to manage, feel pressured by others around them to 'buck up and be strong'.

We talked to a few working men and women to get their opinion on the much debated topic.

Iram Khan, a data scientist, said that the idea is to come out and ask for leave. “It does not make a woman weaker. We have to accept that, we are biologically different. Menstruation is not a sickness, that's why one should apply for menstruation leave, and not sick leave, as opposed to what some people are suggesting. I don't believe that period leave is going to be detrimental to women's status at the workplace. We need to respect the fact that biologically women and men are not the same."

"I've always been considerate enough about women going through a hell week every month. I don't mind giving a hot water bottle, to my girlfriend after she's returned home after work. They've got cramps, you don't know how bad it is. Therefore, a period leave for working women for at least two initial days is going to calm their mind and eventually, improve their work quality." said, Shahid Equbal, Customer Relationship Officer at a food and beverage company.

My job needs me to stand up for hours, meeting new clients and informing them about the newly launched make-up products. While on a period, it becomes a deadly task as I go through an extremely painful period. The pain gradually leads to stiffness in my thighs and at times, I leave for home with swollen feet. So, period leave is actually a better idea considering the amount of physical pain and the mental uneasiness that women go through, said Sadiya Khan, make-up artist at an international makeup brand.

"The policy should be definitely encouraged. It's not about gender discrimination as it is a fact that women go through a series of rapid hormonal changes, especially, during their period. Although, the painful cramps varies from person to person. If we can have maternity leaves then why not menstrual leave. Isn't that obvious, that fertility is associated directly to regular menstruation,” said Angella Misao, a business analyst.

“I won't say that it should be a mandate. But for someone like me who suffers a lot of pain in the initial days should be given an option to take a leave or work from home," said Aakanksha Rana, a customer experience specialist.

“I would certainly be at ease if companies adopt this policy as it becomes difficult for me to come to work during my periods. But what worries me is that, I'll have to text my male boss every month that I'm availing my 'period leave' and I'm not sure if I'll be comfortable doing that."- Sana Khan, a human resource manager.

While, some had a contradictory reaction:

"In today's world when we are demanding equality in work space, with equal rights and salaries, I feel leave just for periods undermines the strength of women. Although whether man or woman, right of taking leave or medical reprieve should be respected but only in the name period every month, seems illogical for me. Having been in a competitive profession that involves long hours, travelling and physical strain, I have never felt the need." said, Tanuja Shankar, a television professional.

"I believe that this would again put women under the 'weaker' section of the society , which certainly is not good, especially when we talk about 'women empowerment'. Also, this may lead to some women taking undue advantage of this policy." said, Harshit Tomar, a 28-year-old, Travel Professional.

The above applause-worthy responses certainly show that Indian women are breaking the shackles and not letting the stigmas surrounding menstruation affect them; yet, we cannot turn a blind eye to the ones who really feel the pinch of nature's cycle.

There are, however, exceptions too. While for some women the first day of menstruation feels like fighting a battle single-handedly, for some others it's cakewalk, with mild discomfort.

What's your opinion on #FOPLeave?

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| Edited by: Shifa Khan
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