An LLM student in Odisha‘s Sambalpur town has launched an online campaign demanding paid leave for women employed in both government and private sectors during periods.
Ranjeeta Priyadarshini, who has earlier worked in the heavy metal industry, has urged Union Labour and Employment Minister Bhupender Yadav to grant the provision to women employees, who constitute nearly a third of the total workforce in the country.
She has also submitted a petition to state Labour and Employment Minister Sushant Singh in this regard.
“Discomfort from having to work during periods remains unnoticed. I demand equal respect for men and women, because a third of the workforce continues to work under physical and mental pressure during menstruation,” she told PTI on World Menstrual Hygiene Day on Saturday.
“We have been demanding just one day of paid leave in a month for periods as 99 per cent of women encounter maximum pain for 24 hours,” Priyadarshini said.
According to Article 15 (3) and Article 42 of the Constitution, the state shall create special provisions for women to provide just and humane conditions for work, she said.
Priyadarshini said there is no shame in demanding such leave and urged women to sign the petition.
Priyadarshini said she is overwhelmed by the response she has received from women so far. “I have received phone calls from various cities and organisations. We will unitedly make the demand to ensure that women get their rights,” she added.
Meanwhile, food delivery company Zomato had in August 2020 given its female employees up to 10 days of “period leave” per year, as part of an effort to combat what it said was stigma around the issue. Zomato is the most high profile organisation to institute the policy in India, a country where menstruation is still taboo to some.
“There shouldn’t be any shame or stigma attached to applying for a period leave,” Zomato chief executive Deepinder Goyal said in an email to staff on Saturday. “You should feel free to tell people on internal groups, or emails that you are on your period leave for the day.”
Millions of women and girls in India still face discrimination and health issues due to a lack of awareness surrounding menstruation.
In 2018, India’s Supreme Court overturned a decades-long ban on women of menstrual age entering the Sabarimala temple in the southern state of Kerala, leading to a nationwide debate about women’s rights.