Home » Debating Menstrual Leaves: Smriti Irani’s Opposition Sparks Discussion on Women’s Health Rights

Debating Menstrual Leaves: Smriti Irani’s Opposition Sparks Discussion on Women’s Health Rights

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The question of whether women should have the option of taking leave during menstruation has stirred a debate, fueled by Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani’s opposition to paid menstrual leaves in the Parliament. Irani argued against a policy for paid menstrual leaves, expressing concerns about potential discrimination against women in the workforce.

Irani emphasized that menstruation is a natural part of women’s life journey, not a handicap. However, the discussion raises questions about whether menstrual leaves should be a universal policy, considering the varying experiences women have during their periods. Gynaecologist Dr. Surbhi Singh, president of Sacchi Saheli, highlights the diversity in women’s menstrual experiences, with some facing extreme symptoms requiring hospitalization.

Dr. Singh advocates for flexibility, stating that while some women can manage work with rest or medication, others may need time off without judgment or pay cuts. She stresses the importance of workplaces accommodating women’s needs, drawing parallels to the accommodations made for childbirth.

The article explores severe menstrual symptoms, including pain, heavy bleeding, hormonal shifts affecting concentration, bloating, sleep problems, vomiting, and fever. Conditions like endometriosis and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) can lead to extreme pain and additional challenges.

While some experts, like Dr. Pratima Mittal, head of gynaecology at Amrita Hospital, oppose specific menstrual leave, they acknowledge the necessity for medical leaves for women with conditions like endometriosis.

The government’s draft menstrual policy takes a progressive stance, advocating for work-from-home or support leaves to prevent discrimination. The policy also includes considerations for the transgender and non-binary population. Additionally, the government is working on affordable menstrual hygiene initiatives.

Irani clarified that her comments reflected her personal viewpoint and not an official stance. The broader discussion raises important considerations about women’s health rights and the need for inclusive policies in the workplace.

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