Menstrual Leaves — ‘Need’ or more?
“On my last trip to the National Capital of India, while travelling via bus, I asked for a ticket. A surprised look from the crowd greeted me. The look also had the curiosity that challenged my awareness about the government offering free rides. Well, I knew I have the privilege to travel for free. I had a responsive interest in the fact that why people want me to take advantage of something that I don’t need; something that is made for women who can’t afford the ride, not for me.”
My friend, a real feminist, shared her experience. It takes me to the recent, most debated, and most highlighted topic — Menstrual Leave offered by companies. It is a fantastic initiative, undoubtedly. As an entrepreneur and a coach, I can understand the perception of the decision-makers to opt for this approach.
Ancient India would make a woman sit aside and not touch anything while she was on her periods. We were told it is religious and followed suit. When we get deeper into this thought, we understand that our culture respected the ‘rest’ that women needed in the days of bleeding as the load in those days was mostly manual. If someone asks about the scientific reason for this approach, do not forget to share the detailed story!
Now, let us come back to the present and analyse the situations. Many women have to go through continuous pain and cramps while on their periods. Medicines do not come to the rescue, and physical pain cannot be shared with anyone. Hence, giving menstrual leaves to women is just half the battle won. Yes, you read that, right!
I see the other side of the coin here. And this time, the other side has two different views. Let me share them as said by my fellow men & women.
The first angle, like the free bus ride, says, if I do not need the menstrual holidays, I should not avail them. Or simply put, I should avail them only when I genuinely NEED them. ‘I’ here implies every woman who doesn’t have to go through extreme pain & discomfort while on her periods. And believe me, there are many like us. So let us save the benefit for others.
This view might offend a few who would not agree to what I said. But, if we look at it rationally, we, as privileged (to learn, to grow, to become independent) women, do not need such privileges and need to understand that rules or laws are made for those who do not have easy access to comfortable living. So no ‘girl card’ play here! We are responsible & independent.
Now, looking at another perspective which we can relate to paternal leave, men whose wives/mothers/sisters/daughters or other women in their lives are on their periods should get the holiday as women do. While their woman is in pain, the man will take up the responsibility to ensure smooth functioning of home affairs. Isn’t it about sharing the load? Yes, we are thinking aloud, which is good.
Venkatesh Ramaswamy, explains that the gender gap can be bridged in a better way, by sharing his thoughts on LinkedIn.
“You wanted to bridge the gap between men and women, but if you were really serious, you would do it by giving both of them flexibility and allow them to choose.
I don’t care if you want time-off to take care of your mom, dad, best friend, pet dog, neighbour’s car or any other urgent business. Your days are yours to take without any questions asked.”
An article, from Feminism in India, explains why this needs to be highlighted and why people need to be sensitised for this.
“A SECTION OF WOMEN ARE NOT IN FAVOR OF THIS BILL BECAUSE THEY BELIEVE THAT SUCH A LAW WOULD FURTHER THE BIAS AGAINST THEM AT WORKPLACE AND THEY WOULD NEED TO DEAL WITH UNFAIR TREATMENTS IN THE FORM OF HIRING BIAS, LESSER PAYS, SLOWER PROMOTIONS AND LESSER PARTICIPATION IN BOARD MEETINGS THAN ALREADY PREVALENT.”
The author further says, ‘this is exactly what needs to be changed’.
Prominent Journalist Barkha Dutt shares her view in this way. “The other thing hideous about the idea of period leave is how it turns a normal biological experience into some sort of monumental event, gendering us at the workplace when we have fought so hard not to be gendered.”
Well, we cannot not-agree to these perspectives as they are crucial and they show us a side that needs due attention. The views should make us realise that there are not just two sides of a coin but different currencies which are valuable and should not be ignored.
While the discussions and opinions can go a long way, it is essential to understand who all are getting affected by these policies (women and men, too) and if they are getting the required benefit.
Like Feminism, the Menstrual or Paternal Leave will always have people misusing the titles for their gain, but it should not stop us from choosing by integrity than by fashion. On which side do you see yourself?