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Addressing India’s Complex Menstrual Leave Situation


When a woman experiences her period or menstruates, the menstrual cycle begins. A woman’s body gets ready for a potential pregnancy throughout this cycle, which is a component of her reproductive system. A normal cycle lasts between 24 to 38 days.

During menstruation, a woman may face discomfort, heavy bleeding, bloating, difficulty in concentration because of hormonal changes, and other issues that may make it difficult for her to focus on her work. Every woman’s experience with menstruation may be unique; some may have no trouble at all, while others may have serious issues that interfere with their ability to work. Therefore, some women support paid menstrual leave to ensure that a woman’s ability to work is not hampered by her period.

Menstrual leave is the time during which an employee may choose to take either paid or unpaid leave from their job if they are not able to work due to their menstruation. There is a constant debate between those who supports menstrual leave and those who do not supports. Menstruation leave opponents view the leave as sexist or a critique of women’s productivity at work. Menstrual leave proponents see it as a means of advancing gender equality and compare it to maternity leave.


Policies that permit workers or students to take time off when they are experiencing menstrual pain or discomfort are referred to as menstrual leave or period leave.

Some Indian companies offer paid period leave to their workers. One such company is Zomato, which offers 10 days of paid period leave annually. Byjus and Swiggy have also adopted paid period leave.

Menstrual leave policies for women have also been adopted in the states Bihar and Kerala. Bihar implemented a program in 1992 that granted workers two days of paid leave per month for menstruation. Some countries provide menstrual leave to the woman workforce which include Spain, Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea, Zambia, and Vietnam. The first nation in Europe to offer paid menstruation leave to employees was Spain.


According to Dr. Surbhi Singh, gynaecologist and president of Sacchi Saheli who works to promote menstrual awareness, the experience of menstruation is different for every woman. On one hand many woman may be able to go on their work with some rest or medicines, others may need to be admitted to the hospital. This is the reason it is challenging to create laws that are the same for every women. But if a woman has to take time off, she should atleast have the option to do so without facing any fear of pay cut or losing her job.  According to Dr. Surbhi, giving birth is a natural procedure as well, but post-partum hemorrhage is a major cause of death for many women. Hence there is a need for some arrangements for women during menstruation.

An alternative to paid period leave has been suggested by Ghazal Alagh, a Shark Tank India judge and co-founder of the beauty firm Mama Earth. Alagh says that rather than implementing paid leave, women who are having menstruation pain should be offered the opportunity to work from home.

Menstrual discussions are taboo, and employees may feel under pressure not to share their symptoms with coworkers. Therefore, menstrual leave may offer a chance to talk about symptoms, which could help to normalize talking about menstruation.


Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani Smriti Irani, spoke against paid menstruation leave in parliament. She said it could result in discrimination against women in the workforce. The menstrual cycle and menstruation itself are normal aspects of a woman’s life journey; they are not a disability.

Menstrual leave should not be restricted, according to Dr. Pratima Mittal, chief of the gynecology department at Amrita Hospital in Faridabad. Instead, she believes that women who suffer from illnesses like endometriosis, she should be able to take medical leave.

Menestral Leave
[Image Sources: Shutterstock]

People who experience menstruation may be perceived as more absurd and unlikeable as a result of both benevolent and hostile sexism. Menstruation is a symptom of a weak woman, according to benign sexism, but hostile sexism involves the idea that women are less valuable than men. Additionally, persons who uses a menstrual leave policy may be viewed less favorably by their coworkers than those who do not.

Also, if someone chooses to take menstrual leave, they must have to disclose this to their supervisor that they are menstruating. This disclosure might make them uncomfortable, and it might even result in implicit or explicit discrimination.

Women’s absences from work are often attributed to their responsibilities to their children and homes. Periods could support the stereotype that women are less suitable for high-level professions. It is possible that businesses may not hire more women out of concern that they will have to offer more paid time off, which would further create problems for the company.


  • Finding answers to women’s needs that don’t reinforce inequality requires an open dialogue about menstrual health and the difficulties women confront throughout their periods.
  • Menstrual leave shouldn’t be handled in a one-size-fits-all manner. Examining possibilities such as access to healthcare, flexible work schedules, and paid leave for extreme situations might be more productive.
  • Policy debates should concentrate addressing the underlying issues of stigma, prejudice, and ignorance around menstruation.
  • An atmosphere that is more understanding and encouraging can be produced by educating people and workplaces about menstruation health and how it affects women’s life.


The subject of menstrual leave is a sensitive and lively one in India. While proponents see it as a vital step toward gender equality and workplace inclusion, opponents raise worries about potential difficulties and unanticipated consequences. The eventual decision to provide menstrual leave in India should be made after a rigorous evaluation of the circumstances and the demands of both employers and employees. It is crucial to adopt a smart approach that balances meeting women’s diverse needs with reducing potential risks. Recalling that efforts to promote women’s health and gender equality in the workplace extend beyond menstrual leave is crucial. It is equally crucial to address the underlying issues of menstruation-related stigma, discrimination, and ignorance.

Author: Chhavi, in case of any queries please contact/write back to us via email to [email protected] or at IIPRD. 



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