Ever since a Mumbai based agency declared Period Leave, everyone and their aunt have been talking about it. Feminists, Anti Feminists and non feminists have been airing their views on social media. There were the debates calling this move regressive. So many women cited instances of doing important meeting and stuff in their period or the last few days of pregnancy and said they don’t need a period leave. Instance about rural women working in fields were given and Period Leave was called an Urban Privilege.
What shocked me was the intensity of it all.
Does the whole movement about accepting your body and making peace with it stop on the outside? What about the suffering during periods? Should we not be accepting of the fact that each woman goes through a different pain and for some it might be more intense than the other? Just because one woman is able to stay physically active during the period, does she become stronger than the one who does not? I don’t think so.
All these protesting are right about the potential misuse of the Leave but then, don’t medical leaves also get misused? In fact, organisations make it mandatory to produce a medical certificate when taking medical leave. So now, do we visit our gynaecologist every month and ask them to stamp our Period calendar? Biases against women run deep and their commitment to work is always questioned. I feel that until those biases are not addressed, women in the work place will always feel discrimination. Once they are Period Leave won’t matter.
Yes, rural women do not get the privilege but then many of them also do not get clean flowing water and private loos. They do not get designer threads and annual holidays. Do we think of these before enjoying our other Urban Privileges?
As someone who is regularly reduced to bits during her period, I would be glad if I can just tell my boss that I am taking a Period Leave and not call it a medical Leave. Concerned managers will always ask what is wrong and most organisations do not have the sort of culture where you can tell them you are on your period. Introducing a Period Leave means educating the men that this is not a big deal. There is nothing physically wrong with your employee if they take monthly leaves. And believe me, with the cramps, the dizziness and the puking, I am forced to take those days off. In fact, everything I have been brave and landed in office during my period, I made a spectacle of myself running to the bathroom and collapsing on my desk. Isn’t it better to just stay at home and rest? In my mind, Period Leave is a culture shift making it easy to tell people about the need to take time off during the period. That is all. Why can’t we look at it as simply a choice that women can avail if needed?
I discussed this with a few other women and most of them welcomed it.
Suman says we may be making a big deal of it and that even men should be encouraged to take leaves if they are unwell.
In her latest blog post, Purba Ray calls this over compensating for the penance of foremothers went through. Purba says that she is not against the extra leave per day, but that it should not be called a period leave. She says that there are many more debilitating conditions women suffer from.
So you see, there are many different points of view about whether we should have such a leave to weather is should be called something else. I am going to end this post with a quote that in my opinion sums it all up
If men were offered an extra day off, they’d simply take it. Women have to overthink. EVERYTHING.