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    Period Leaves Are A Step In The Right Direction, No Matter What You Say

    Just because you don't experience debilitating pain, does not mean that you can deny someone else's agony.

    On the 8th of August, 2020, Zomato, India's biggest restaurant aggregator and food delivery company, announced that it was implementing a 'menstrual leave' for its employees.

    Going forward, women at Zomato can avail up to 10 period leaves in a year. This also applies to transgender people working at Zomato.💁‍♀️ Read more here – https://t.co/GmP5rLkaNL

    This move was seen by many as a step towards progress, which it absolutely is, given the taboo around menstruation in India. In fact, considering the increasing number of females and transgender employees in the workforce, this decision should have come in earlier.

    Interestingly, Zomato is not the first Indian company to effectuate period leaves. There are organisations such as Chaaipani and Obvious that have been executing it for quite sometime now.

    At @chaaipani every woman gets a no question asked menstrual & mental health leaves. Implemented 2 years back, not one guy in the team of 40 has opposed till date. Not one woman of 24 women in the team has misused menstrual leaves. Trust gets trust.

    I took my first ever paid #menstrualleave today, because @obvious_in accounts for it. Might not be a big deal for many, but it is for me! As someone who's worked through the worst of my periods, just having this option feels surreal. Hoping for this to become a norm everywhere!

    However, since every 'monumental' effort is accompanied with a backlash, Zomato's decision was no exception.

    Sorry Zomato, as woke as your decision on #PeriodLeave is, this is exactly what ghettoizes women and strengthens biological determinism. We cannot want to join the infantry, report war, fly fighter jets, go into space, want no exceptionalism and want period leave. PLEASE.

    What hurts the most, in this scenario, is that some women of paramount influence have been criticising this implementation, without realising that they are not speaking for everyone. It is easy to forget that there are people who experience period pain that is so excruciating, that it renders them incapable of functioning. Conditions such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, Fibroids, and Endometriosis can cause extreme Dysmenorrhea, or period cramps, because of which several women find it difficult to even move. In fact, for some, period pain can be similar to having a heart attack!

    Furthermore, the stigma associated with menstruation in India, coupled with the fact that many medical practitioners are still dismissive of menstrual pain, has only augmented the problem. There shouldn't be a question of bias or 'ghettoisation' in this case because it is merely about being accountable.

    @BDUTT Sorry Barkha, I strongly disagree. Period experiences are different for different women and no one person can speak for all. Those who suffer from extreme forms of it, and have for years, we didn't choose this. The burden of not being discriminated against should not be on us.

    Some people experience periods so painful they can’t move. If YOU don’t experience then that, don’t take a day off — but don’t try to take away the option for others. There’s nothing empowering about taking away that choice for people when they’re suffering. https://t.co/wG9pVqgCTU

    Women should understand the pain of other women before writing long essays on Twitter. Every woman's body has a different way of dealing with menstruation. You not wanting a #PeriodLeave doesn't mean others don't need it. https://t.co/KXOUN3ZWwN

    It is imperative to remember that menstrual leaves are NOT COMPULSORY; they are an option. You don't have to take them if your periods are not as painful. However, just because you don't experience debilitating pain, does not mean that you can deny someone else's agony. It is as simple as that.

    A person holding a sanitary napkin and a tampon
    Masanyanka / Getty Images

    It is also vital to note that most women who have been opposing this decision come from a generation that has had to struggle at the workplace to prove their merit and therefore find it unpalatable when the younger generation does not have to go through what they did. This idea of equality is rather flawed because it disregards progress. Why should more women continue to suffer in silence?

    #PeriodLeave is one small step. We need a system that sees humans as more than value-producers. It shouldn’t be Economic stability vs health, fam+friends, rest—and these shouldn’t be the domain of the privileged. 8 hours for work, 8 hours for rest, 8 hours for what we will.

    Finally, those who argue that such 'period leaves' will discourage employers from hiring more women are probably not taking into account the massive unpaid labour that women do in households, all while dealing with crippling abdominal cramps. Maternity leave was met with the same amount of disapproval once upon a time but has now gained acceptance because people have realised its importance. So why shouldn't menstrual leave? Also, this idea of 'being discouraged' speaks volumes about companies that engage in such blatant discrimination.

    Debilitating pain on 1st day of period. Taking the day off. Thankful that my employers get it. And yes, have reported through it before, including an 8hr drive covering the global gag rule, and Weinstein trial. Work with people who value taking a break when needed.

    It is perhaps a good time to revisit an essay by Gloria Steinem, titled 'If Men Could Menstruate', in which she talks about how different the world would be if men, and not women, had periods.

    With @Zomato's progressive move of instituting a #PeriodLeave, I'm reminded of a 1978 essay by @GloriaSteinem about a world where men are the ones having periods, and how much more important menstruation suddenly becomes to the society. Sharing some excerpts, read on... (1/n)

    She speaks about how, in a situation such as that, there would be more research about dysmenorrhea and cramps. Sanitary napkins would be made available free of charge. The importance of menstrual rights would be recognised and popular culture would treat the topic of periods without any restrictions. She concludes by saying that there would be an endless justification of power, if men could bleed.

    Because, well...

    Men having a MELTDOWN in my mentions because ONE company decided to allow women period leave. 🤦🏾‍♀️

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