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What Is The Youth Ki Awaaz On A Paid Menstrual Leave For Women?

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Over the last many months, a debate has taken over the Indian internet since some companies initiated a two-day period leave policy. Journalist Barkha Dutt took a fierce stand against it, saying, “‘First-day period leave’ may be dressed up as progressive, but it actually trivializes the feminist agenda for equal opportunity, especially in male-dominated professions.” A lot of people actually disagreed with this – one of them being stand-up artist Daniel Fernandes who said, “Period pain is extremely personal and the best approach to this is to let each woman decide their own threshold of tolerance and give them the option of taking the day off if needed.”

We asked you, our Youth Ki Awaaz community, what you think of a period leave policy, and got overwhelming responses. Here are some excerpts:

1. Ruchika Thakur Saklani: On one side u talk about woman equality n other side u were talking about period leave….. No way

2. Pragya Mishra: How is period leave an antithesis of women equality?

If you have your Periods cramp free, you are one helluva lucky woman. I have the worst cramps ever during the 1st two days. Sometimes they are so bad that I can’t even get up from the bed. To expect women to work through this kind of pain in the name of equality is a flawed logic

3. Dipinty Ghosal: There are many who will take undue advantage of this

If you allow leaves, every day some woman employee will be on leave. Also, there are many who will take undue advantage of this, since there is no way to check. 2 leaves per month is equivalent to 24 leaves in a year, which is more than number of earned leaves of an employee. Instead, they can avail work from home. Or If the cramps are too much, try consulting a doctor. Exercise regularly, eat healthy to have healthy and stress free periods!

4. Pooja Khera: The choice should be left with women.

Every woman responds differently to her period. It’s not like a one size fits all. But yes in a society that so needs to be more considerate to women, this could be a small move.

5. Akhilesh Rathi: You can’t expect the same pay

Do You people think the same about your domestic help/maids? Let her not come for 1 day and you know how people behave.You can use your sick leaves, all purpose leaves etc. But taking additional separate leaves means less time spent in the workplace. So naturally you can’t expect the same pay.

6. Arpita Gupta: “Then it’s not profitable to hire women”

Not at all required to be made compulsory, take a sick leave if you feel that much pain, rather than making a special period leave, because then it’s not profitable for the employers to hire women. Let’s take this issue practically, rather than emotionally.

7. Shibani Basak: “Making it compulsory is absurd and degrading”

Should be an option. Many women have it too painful to work. Then a lot of women are fully functional just like the rest of the month. Making it compulsory is absurd and degrading towards women. Menstruation is not the reason for leave, the associated pain is , hence should be sick leave. But yeah, if asked what sickness, should be able to say menstrual pain and not diarrhoea.

8. Steve Manjaly: “Could create a problem with male employees”

From a purely economic point of view, I think period leaves would make having female employees less profitable, all though, having 50 percent of the staff taking an extra day off randomly, won’t affect the productivity much. But this could create a problem with the male employees, as they would feel they’re being treated unfairly, and could possibly lead to a decrease in morale, which could be solved by giving an extra 1 day off, which brings us back to, well, equal number of paid leaves for all. I think, it would be better, if people used their paid leaves in a month, it could be workout fine. I mean, not every woman wants to take a leave when they have their periods. I’m not a woman, so I can’t be sure, but from what I’ve heard and read, it varies, so…

What is your opinion? Should paid menstrual leaves be a part of workplace policies across India? Comment and share your opinion, or publish your view by clicking on ‘Add a post’ on

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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