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Menstrual leave for women UPSC NOTE

 Legislators and Bills

  • In December 2021, S. Jothimani, Congress Member of Parliament (MP) from Tamil Nadu, had introduced a Private Member Bill named, ‘Right to Menstrual Hygiene and Paid Leave Bill, 2019’, which sought to bring menstrual leave into the ambit of the rights of a woman, and a refusal of such leave into the domain of The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. 

  • It also sought to impose a penalty for refusal.

  • The Bill that envisaged menstrual rights for women stipulates that every woman shall be entitled to the right to self-perception of her menstruation, including but not limited to menarche (first menstruation), menopause, menstrual cycle, primary or secondary dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain)

  • The Bill sought remedies in the form of: rights, including paid leave for three days; right to leave or absence for three days for students above class eight; right to 30 minutes rest twice a day during the menstrual period for employees/workers, and right to menstrual hygiene management facilities and equity for all women.

  • The Supreme Court of India, early in 2023, refused to entertain a public interest litigation in Shailendra Mani Tripathi vs Union of India which sought direction to the state on menstrual leave; it was of the opinion that it is in the policy domain of the government

  • By December 2023, the central government refused to agree on such a policy

Progressive Indian States, Asian nations

  • Kerala Sahitya Academy published work, Kerala in 19th Century, mentions that Kerala was the first (in then Cochin State) to recognise the need for “ period leave” for students and allowed it during examinations in 1912. 

  • In a recent progressive attempt, Kerala has encouraged the use of other menstrual hygiene products and made them available for students. 

  • Bihar, in 1992, allowed government employees two-day menstrual leave. 

  • Kerala, in January 2023, introduced menstrual and maternity leave to all students above the age of 18.

  • Japan introduced menstrual leave in 1947, Indonesia in 1948, and South Korea

  • Taiwan and Vietnam have also implemented paid leave. 

  • In relation to the Asian countries, the progress made by the western world, except in Sweden and Spain, is still abysmal. 

  • Several international organisations have promoted menstrual leave as a women’s right. 

  • For instance, an International Labour Organisation report, in 2003, asked nations to recognise menstrual leave. 

  • The World Health Organization recognised a non-governmental organisation driven World Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28 from 2014

  • However, India’s new code on Social Security, 2020, passed by Parliament, which consolidated existing labour laws (yet to be notified), has not included the aspect of menstrual leave in its code.

Steps ahead

  • Policy solutions to gender inequalities that are defined by differentiated gender experiences of women owing to socio-cultural and biological reasons will not only ensure equity but also bring new social change. 

  • The instrumentality of public policy and discussions on menstruation also lies in shattering taboos and creating a gender-sensitive world that is open to issues which are hitherto considered to be clandestine by conservative-gendered social standards. 

  • Recognition of the issue by political parties this election season will be a major step to promote women’s rights and gender equality.

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Menstrual leave for women UPSC NOTE
Menstrual leave for women UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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