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Paid menstrual leave for women? Irani doesn’t think so

Advocating for gender equality, Smriti Irani asserts that women should not be provided with paid menstrual leave in the workplace

Paid menstrual leave for women? Irani doesn’t think so

In the Rajya Sabha, Union Minister Smriti Irani has voiced her opposition to the proposal of implementing compulsory paid menstrual leave for female employees. She argued that such policies may inadvertently contribute to workplace discrimination against women, as they could reinforce negative stereotypes and biases held by those who do not experience menstruation.

 

“As a menstruating woman, I can very particularly say that menstruation is not a handicap. We should not propose issues where women are denied any equal opportunities just because somebody who does not menstruate has a particular viewpoint towards menstruation”, she says.

 

While some women can manage menstrual pain with rest and medication, others may experience extreme discomfort necessitating hospitalization. The question arises: should women be granted the option of paid leave during menstruation? Union Minister for Women and Child Development, Smriti Irani, firmly opposes the implementation of such a policy in Parliament. In response to MP Manoj Kumar Jha's query about the government's efforts to mandate menstrual leave for female employees, Irani asserted that menstruation is a natural aspect of a woman's life journey and emphasized that women on their menstrual cycles should not be considered handicapped.

 

Simultaneously, she recognized the significance of menstrual hygiene awareness and revealed the initiation of a draft national policy by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The objective is to enhance awareness and facilitate access to appropriate menstrual hygiene management practices throughout the nation. The focus is on elevating menstrual hygiene standards among adolescent girls aged 10 to 19. She also emphasized the promotion of the Menstrual Hygiene Management Scheme, backed by the National Health Mission.

 

The controversy arose when Smriti Irani, responding to Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, stated that there is no ongoing consideration for mandating paid menstrual leave.

 

Her statement drew substantial backlash on social media and criticism from prominent political figures. Telangana MLC Kavitha, for example, voiced her dissent, expressing disappointment and highlighting that the refusal to provide paid leave for women during menstruation underscores a real lack of awareness about women's pain.

 

In contrast, actress Kangana Ranaut supported Irani's statement, asserting that unless there is a specific medical condition, women do not require paid leave. Ranaut emphasized that menstruation is a natural bodily process and should not be treated as an illness.

 


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