#PeriodPaath: With No Paid Leaves, I Feel Like I Am In A Cage

Editor’s Note: This post is an entry for the #Periodपाठ writing contest, a unique opportunity for you to write a letter and stand a chance of winning up to ₹30,000! The contest is organised by Youth Ki Awaaz in collaboration with WSSCC. Find out more here and submit your entry!


The Hon’ble Minister

M/o Law and justice

(D/o Justice)

 Jaisalmer House, 26 Mansingh Road,

New Delhi – 110001

Dated: 30 January, 2020

SubjectOne Day Paid Compulsory Menstrual Leave every month for women.

Respected Sir/ Mam,

I want to bring an important issue into consideration. I am writing this letter based on the researched data of other countries and India. Many people are responsible for making laws in India where two houses, one parliament and president comes together. But I can’t address this issue to each one of them at one go, so I am starting with your department. What exactly you think a woman feels when she is going through her menstrual cycle and still has to go to work that day in severe pain? What kind of cramps and mood swings she goes through? Out of 23.6 % (above age of 15) working women in India, how many according to you take leave on days when it pains the most? Do you think many women can afford unpaid sick leaves when they are the only source of income in family?

Be it women police officers who can’t even share their pain because of this taboo topic or women in call centers who have to work for long hours while sitting at a place, everyone push themselves to next limit and not take leave because their salary will be cut. Symptoms of this 5-day average cycle include acne, stomach ache, irritation and white discharge. These things affect their health and in turn this system and puts gender ratio in danger with so many diseases coming in play. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, Endometriosis, Uterine fibroids and many more diseases are possible because of insufficient care of Vagina during periods. Not only that before periods also they have to go through Premenstrual syndrome. Few female doctors even advised exercise while on periods and asked to not sit at home. Countries like Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan and Zambia offers 2, 1, 3, 1 days paid menstrual leave respectively to women. USA and European countries are also considering this law. In India ‘Nike brand’ has official paid menstrual leaves for working women and there are few other small companies as well who are trying to give women what they need and deserve. But there are women who really can’t tolerate the pain after certain age, not everyone is young and fit. It’s not about putting these things to attention, it’s about a right which woman should have and they don’t. It’s as important as Right to freedom of speech. 12 days a year is not much compared to what amount of pain a woman face half her life just because of periods.

If not paid leave, then at least work from home facility can be given to women for 1 day.  Proper rest, heating pads and certain vitamins are to be considered when working women is above the age of 35. Giving name of ‘Menstrual leave’ might offend few so-called men. So, if just paid sick leave for a woman in a year can be extended. I on behalf of every working woman will wait for law to take place. One day compulsory paid leave, one day compulsory work from home or extended paid leaves for working women in India. With multiple solutions that I have marked in this letter I hope you will consider one or all of them for the betterment of women and this society.

Thanking You,

Yours Sincerely

Kritika Sahu

Featured image provided by the author.

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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 Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’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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