India based food delivery company Zomato with all around 4,000 employees across 24 countries, being called “the most high profile company” yet to adopt paid menstrual leave, though it announced last weekend 10 days period leave for its women and transgender employees. “There shouldn’t be any shame or stigma attached to applying for a period leave,” Zomato chief executive Deepinder Goyal said in a note to staff on Saturday.
Lets talk Period leave: In and around the World
Period leave is not some box-fresh millennial free ride, like treadmill desks. To say that we have an ace up of the sleeve is something absurd as when we go through the timeline, the first and foremost menstrual leave can be acknowledged with Leviticus, though we sit up and take notice since World War 2. Japan introduced 1947 Labor Standards Law in response to the surge of women in the workforce.
Even we didn’t find such policies until 21st Century with South Korea(2001), Taiwan(2013) in spite of period pain can be so severe, it can be as bad as having a heart attack.
Conditions such as dysmenorrhea, endometriosis, fibroids or PCOS can cause extreme bleeding, abdominal pain and cramps. Moreover, period pain is extremely common and severe enough to interfere with the daily functioning of almost 20% of women, according to a study conducted in 2012 by the Journal of Pain Research.
Is Zomato’s initiating Period leave leading to more harm?
Zomato’s decision has also angered some women, who called the move discriminatory and anti-feminist. Unfortunately, due to rampant sexism, conservative norms and the culture around menstruation, discussing periods is seen as taboo.
People believe the trend is discriminatory, as it creates a distinction between male and female employees. The equal footing that women seek to achieve will no longer be a possibility since women will have an additional ten days of leave, say those against this move.
A section of Twitterati believes that Zomato’s period leave move implies that women are not strong enough to work during their periods. They add that an equal leave of some sort be given to men since they will be ‘picking up the slack’.
Another concern raised by women is that it altogether leads up to by hiring more men and given fewer decision-making roles or be less likely to be promoted if they take period leaves.
Finance writer Tim Worstall argues, “If we insist that one group or another has an extra set of costs associated with their employment then we’ll end up seeing the wages of that group fall relative to groups that don’t have those associated costs.”
One proposed solution? Give all employees enough paid sick leave to account for periods.
Lets talk in India: How are we faring?
The country has an infamously oppressive culture when it comes to the female reproductive system, with UNICEF reporting that over 70% of Indian women don’t know what periods are until they have their own. In the eastern state of Bihar, female government employees are given two extra days off for periods.
The long hailed taboo of talking about period has been left burnt out by pioneering Period leave, 2017 in work place. The two Indian companies Culture Machine and Gozoop decided to offer their female employees a day off on the first day of their periods, the move turned into a national debate of sorts.
In a welcome move, a Surat-based digital marketing company Bhautik Sheth, the founder of iVIPANAN is following in the footsteps of Zomato, announcing 12 days of period leave per year for its female staff with immediate effect.
Periods are not a choice that people make. When equality in a workplace is being discussed, it should be equality in working conditions and painful periods do not offer the same working conditions to those who menstruate as those who do. Men questioning the sanctity of period leaves begs the question: how would the world react if men had periods? Would period leaves be seen as normal?
We just cant suit our selves, neither Mother Earth nor our 9th standard Biological Science does give appropriate answers. Rather than sparking debate, Period leave can be viewed with renewed catalyst by companies to enhance more working productivity for women.
(Views are of Author’s personal choice)