[Answered] Discuss the need for menstrual leave policies. Highlight the global practices around menstrual leave policies.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain the need for menstrual leave policies. Also write some global practices around menstrual leave policies.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Menstrual leave or period leave refers to all policies that allow employees or students to take time off when they are experiencing menstrual pain or discomfort. At the workplace, it refers to policies that allow for both paid or unpaid leave or time for rest. In India, there is no legislative provision for menstrual leave.

Need for menstrual leave policies:

  • This pain lasts for a couple of days a month for some and for others the pain hampers daily activities and productivity. It was estimated that employees lost around 8.9 days’ worth of productivityevery year due to menstrual-cycle related issues.
  • In India, 20% of menstruators have PCOS and approximately 25 million suffer from endometriosis.
  • Menstrual leave could be an opportunity for women to speak up about their menstrual cycle and to receive treatment for health issues related to it.
  • It was not that women needed rest while menstruating, it was just the lack of humane working conditions that made labour movements push for menstrual leaves.
  • This will also help reduce the drop-out rates of female students from government schools in rural India caused by the lack of clean toilets, running water, sanitary pads, etc.

Global practices:

  • Spain:Spain recently became the first European country to grant paid menstrual leave to workers.
  • Japan:Japan introduced menstrual leave as part of labour law in 1947. However, as per a recent study, less than 0.9% of the women had actually taken leave.
  • Indonesia: It introduced a policy in 1948 which said that workers experiencing menstrual pain are not obliged to work on the first two days of their cycle.
  • Philippines:Workers are permitted two days of menstrual leave a month.
  • Taiwan:It has an Act of Gender Equality in Employment. The act says employees have the right to request a day off as period leave every month, at half their regular wage.
  • There are other countries that allow menstrual leave like the United Kingdom, South Korea, Zambia, China and Wales. However, the U.S does not have a formal menstrual leave policy.
  • Private Companieslike Nike and Coexist have introduced menstrual leave as an internal policy.

The path to equality does not lie in inaction due to fear of further discrimination. What is needed is a holistic outlook aimed at bridging existing gaps. It may become a pivotal step in ensuring proper reproductive health equity in India.

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