Menstruation is a biological process women go through every month. It is part of their anatomy and this physiological process has given women their share of psychological issues. It is a result of natural changes taking place in the body. In this time and era, women represent almost every sector in society and the debate surrounding the necessity of menstrual leave is still being discussed. Is it needed? Should it be implemented in all sectors? Let me put forward my opinion through the following 5 cases.
Case 1: We have here, Pavithra. She works in her office every day from 7:00 to 16:00. She is very efficient in her work and does everything systematically. She is not only organised in terms of handling her office work but in her personal life as well. Just like how neat her wardrobe and bags are, Pavithra keeps a track of her period dates. When it is coming up close, she keeps extra tampons/sanitary pads in her bags. Plus, the office provides these in the ladies’ room. She checks whenever she feels suspicious and quickly prepares herself when she gets her period. She is able to work normally without any other bodily interference like dysmenorrhea and other symptoms like vomiting/ headache/mood swings, among others. In this case, Pavithra does not require a menstrual leave as she is able to function without any “commas” in between. But this is not the same with all women.
Case 2: Nikita is a workaholic who finds it difficult to accommodate time in her busy schedule, but then she does everything efficiently. Nikita suffers from monthly dysmenorrhea along with dizziness, vomiting (occasionally) and mood swings. The pain is so intense that she finds it difficult to walk without support. Even if the pain is less intense, she is unable to concentrate properly. So she will need menstrual leave and even if she has to do urgent work, then there should be facilities in the office for her, like a resting place and a first-aid kit with pain killers and ORS. This problems that working women face should be taken into consideration and a minimum of 2 days’ menstrual leave should be given. In case Nikita requires more days to rest, then her fellow female co-workers should be able to share her workload with her, like those like Pavithra in Case 1, who won’t be needing menstrual leaves for that month.
Case 3: Suja works as a cleaner in ABC School. She is given a hectic work schedule as the students tend to litter all over the place. She shares this work with two others. Suja also suffers from various problems related to periods. She finds it difficult to keep track of her period dates and suffers from side effects. This sector of working women should not be left out and wherever they work, the facilities from sanitary pads and medical kits should be made available to them and if they can’t work, they should be excused for that day. Unlike women working in the office, they have to exert a lot of physical effort and therefore should be granted menstrual leave. As mentioned above, those who don’t want leave for that month could share it with their fellow co – workers if extra days are necessary.
Case 4: Misha is a housewife. She does intense work the whole day right from cooking, cleaning and organizing at home. She suffers from dysmenorrhea every month and this pain lasts for the whole day. The general perception of women, who are respected, is that they are able to function in spite of being sick. This practice should not be glorified. Women are expected to multitask but they should be given leniency. Domestic work during these days should be shared in the house and even otherwise too. Misha’s husband and son do all the domestic chores so that she can get some rest during her period. Even if she does not have her cramps, her husband shares the load so that chores can be quickly completed.
Case 5: Chandni is studying at school. Every student is given 9 leaves every semester. If they take more than that, it adversely affects their grades. In her school, the girls are discouraged from taking leaves during their period as they have to“prepare themselves” for future scenarios. However, these girls are allowed to take rest in between classes and to go to the sickroom and take medicines. So during these days,girls are able to get their attendance and they also have enough facilities at school, including the option to go home.
Judging by the aforementioned cases, menstrual leave should be implemented in all sectors. Sad state of affairs have men and women bickering on women’s inability to function properly and to give up the idea of working altogether. Women menstruate every month and their voices should be prioritized in all sectors for the sake of their health and for the better functioning of the system.
Author: Karthika S. Nair
karthika is zoology student at MG University Kerala India. Her passion are writing and reviewing Hollywood films.She is a feminist and is against old school notions that puts a woman under the shadows of uncomfortable patriarchy. She is also a firm believer in conservation of Nature. Karthika blogs here
Editor: Divya Rosaline