Menstrual Leave – Would It Backfire On Women?

I read an online journal about the new First Day of Period (FOP) leave policy which is a bid to fight social taboos around menstruation. While this may have already become the topic of new debate, I am concerned about how this would help women to have higher self-esteem. I am also afraid, that it will instead be a setback to the progress made towards gender equality or women’s empowerment.

I firmly believe that there is no shame in accepting when one is on their period. However, I am unsure about how this initiative is going to help in providing a ‘women friendly’ workplace. While there are organisations who promote diversity in culture, this initiative can turn to be a hindrance towards women empowerment. It worries me that tomorrow a woman, who is equally eligible for a post as another man, could be denied a job offer just because she is a woman and is entitled to such leaves.

Haven’t we already witnessed enough of such biases towards mothers returning from maternity leave or pregnant women? We hear so many stories of recruiters and bosses thinking that their career is not their priority or they may have to take additional leaves and that there is a risk of hiring them. I am worried, that every time a man steps up and shares the workload of a woman on FOP leave, we may still raise our eyebrows when his performance gets recognised or if he takes home a higher salary as compared to his woman counterpart. From one such talk of discrimination to the other, this might just become another reason for a ‘Women Un-friendly’ workplace.

It is heartening to see that society is progressing and being sensitive to the needs of women, but before we advocate such policies, we should also think of the flip side, especially if it’s affecting the empowerment of the same gender for whom we’re fighting for equal rights. Men do not have periods, is it their fault? We have periods, we bleed, we give birth, and that’s how we are biologically built. Any such initiatives may just make the other gender feel that we are getting an undue advantage. After all, we are demanding for ‘equal’ rights and the last thing we’d want to hear is ‘women have it easy in the corporate world’.

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