Kerala announces menstrual leave: Time to talk period

Source: The post is based on the article Kerala announces menstrual leave: Time to talk period” published in The Indian Express on 24th January 2023.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Social Justice

Relevance: menstrual leave for women and associated concerns

News: Kerala government has announced that it will grant menstrual leave for female students in all state universities under the Department of Higher Education. This announcement is a positive step towards a gender-just society.

How menstrual leave would benefit women and what are the concerns associated with it?

Benefits: It is an important step towards acknowledging and addressing the pain and discomfort faced by women.

Period leave would help create workplaces and classrooms that are more inclusive and more accommodating.

Concerns: Menstruation in India is a taboo topic. Therefore, it is possible that a special period leave could become a source for discrimination.

South Korea and Japan have laws granting period leave but recent surveys showed a decline in the number of women availing it due to the social stigma against menstruation. This could also be in India.

Further, there is risk of medicalising a normal biological process which could further lead to biases against women.

Moreover, there are also possibilities that employers may be reluctant to hire women due to the extra leave granted to them.

How have various governments recognised menstrual leave and what are the challenges?

The government has tried to come up with menstrual laws and schemes for women.

For example, Bihar introduced period leave for working women in 1992. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s Menstrual Hygiene Scheme seeks to increase access to sanitary napkins for adolescent girls in rural areas.

However, bringing laws on menstruation still remains a challenge.

The Menstruation Benefits Bill was first introduced in Parliament in 2017 and then in the Arunachal Pradesh Assembly in 2022.

However, the bill was withdrawn from the Arunachal Pradesh Assembly because the subject was deemed unsuitable for discussion in the Assembly.

Therefore, such issues and obstacles will bring difficulties in recognising the goals of gender justice and equality. 

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