GS Paper 1
Syllabus: Indian Society/ Women issues
Source: Indian Express
Context: Kerala government announced that it will grant menstrual leave for female students in all state universities under the Department of Higher Education as part of the government’s “commitment to realise a gender-just society”
- In accordance with the decision, a girl of age 18 years and above is eligible to avail of 60 days of menstrual leave in a year.
- With this, the attendance percentage of girl students is sealed at 73% as against the usual 75%.
Significance of the move:
- A move towards acknowledging and addressing the often-debilitating pain and discomfort that so many are often forced to work through
- It will help create workplaces and classrooms that are more inclusive and accommodating
- Create further discrimination: In a traditional society like India, where menstruation remains a taboo, it is possible that a special period leave could become another excuse for discrimination.
- g. In similarly traditional societies like South Korea and Japan (both allow Menstrual leave) but fewer women are availing of it, citing the social stigma against menstruation
- There is the risk of medicalising a normal biological process, which could further entrench existing biases against women
- Reluctance in hiring women: The possibility that the perceived financial and productivity cost of mandatory period leaves could make employers even more reluctant to hire women.
Previous efforts towards this direction:
The effort to introduce such policies in India is not new.
- 1992: Bihar government two days of menstrual leave a month
- 2017: Menstrual Benefits Bill 2017was introduced in Parliament to provide monthly two days of menstrual leave to both public and private employees during menstruation.
- 2020: Zomato introduced menstrual leaves for up to ten days a year for its women and transgender employees.
- Since then, similar policies are also followed by other private companies like Swiggy and Byju
- Japan was the first country to implement this policy in 1947. Across the globe, menstrual leave policies exist in countries like Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, China, Indonesia, Zambia, Sweden and Mexico. Spain tried recently to approve a new law to introduce paid ‘menstrual leave’.
Period poverty refers to the lack of access to menstrual hygiene products and education, which can have a negative impact on a person’s health, education, and overall well-being. It can lead to health complications, the perpetuation of myths and taboos, absenteeism from school or work and can affect the education and economic opportunities of those who experience it.
Comment on the issue of mandatory menstrual leave and also analyse the design of a new framework for the same in our country. (15M)