Menstruation is the method of removing blood and tissue into the womb. For reproductive-age girls and women this is a natural and healthy process. This is often referred to as “the period” in Western communities. It usually lasts 2 to 5 days but this varies by individual.
Menstruation Benefit Bill
Menstruation Benefit Bill is an initiative to counteract the disrespect inflicted on women during menstruation by providing them with considerable provisions for the workplace. Women in India lack the adequate facilities and resources to maintain menstrual hygiene. In addition, they ‘re subjected to menstrual humiliation and discrimination. To combat this troubling situation, Mr Ninong Ering, a Lok Sabha member from Arunachal East, tabled a private member’s bill namely Menstruation Benefit Bill in Parliament during the winter session.
People employed in both the public and private sectors should be entitled to two days of paid breaks per month through menstruation, according to the bill tabled in parliament. The aim of this bill is to offer relaxation and appropriate facilities at the workplace to working people during their time periods. This legislation lets women manage their wellbeing needs and job commitments.
The Objective of the Bill
In India, there have been numerous requests to further change the Labour Laws and provide the female workers with better working facilities. The menstruation leave movement has gained momentum across the nation, and there has been intense demand for entitlement during menstruation to women with paid leave. Furthermore, there were calls to have intermediate breaks during menstruation during working days and rest facilities at the Indian workplace. A number of people, media and civil society groups have started to discuss the menstruation-related problems and seek paid leave.
The history of paid menstrual leave dates back to a period as early as World War II. Countries such as Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Taiwan have been far-sighted in the matter and are entitled to menstrual leave for female employees. Italy has brought out a Bill on compensated menstrual leave. Indian cultures have been identified with the hallmark of vivid liberalism, traditionally. As early as 1912 a girls school in the State of Kerala had granted menstrual leave to its students. A handful of businesses in India have independently launched the paid menstrual leave scheme for their female workers this financial year.
Arguments for implementation
Our culture has always been ignorant of this topic so it’s long overdue the debate. We can not arrive at some harmonious compromise until we recognize the discrepancies and display proper concern for the people. The implementation of this bill can be treated as a move in the right direction because it should, at the very least, trigger debates on the topic in various platforms.
During periods most women face difficulties and that is why they should be provided with a flexible work environment during their periods. In this way, the bill will serve as a trigger. The amount of leaves compensated may be disputed because it may be too many at all for two days of paid leave. A day of rest at the onset of menstruation will undoubtedly do more good for both women and employers, as it would lead to more satisfied and productive employees.
Arguments against implementation
This legislation even faced with claims against it. Several of them notes that this initiative would disrupt the ongoing struggle between women to combat the idea that women are vulnerable because of their menstrual period. More clear than ever, there is a vital need to prevent these ideas and discriminate against prevalent prejudices of our culture. But, at the same time, our approach to problem-solving has to be rational and systematic.
Policies should not be emotionally driven; rather, for policies to be formulated correctly, a thorough situational analysis is required. This could be possible that the adoption of such a bill may reinforce the idea that women are inferior because of their menstrual cycle, but resisting the bill would in no sense benefit women either. Instead, we need to ask government for proper educational programs to eradicate any misconceptions.
The legislation is also viewed by citizens as promulgating gender discrimination, which is a faulty claim. Providing a decent working climate and opportunities for women is simply an indicator of professional acumen. Men and women have specific expectations and our employment practices need to be examined in the same manner so that we can come up with guidelines that reflect the distinctions.
History informs us that only few private member bills have been enacted by Parliament following independence, and that this bill is likely to meet the same fate. We should, however, use this bill as an opportunity to discuss menstruation in all possible fora, including Parliament. Not only will this create awareness, but it will also teach more citizens about the menstrual cycle and encourage attempts to lift the period-specific stigma.
The Menstruation Benefits Bill, tabled in Parliament this Winter Session as a private member bill, seeks to provide two days of paid menstrual leave to women working in both the public and private sectors per month. In recognized government colleges, the incentives are also limited to Class VIII and above female students. The Bill also aims to include improved rest facilities during menstruation at workplace. The motives for pressing the Bill forward are obvious. There have been numerous requests across India that labour laws be changed to provide women workers with improved job facilities.
The menstrual leave campaign has gained momentum across the country, and there is an increasing desire for rights during menstruation of women with paid leave. In fact, there were calls to provide intermediate breaks on working days and rest services at the Indian workplace during the menstruation. A number of people, media, and civil society groups have started highlighting the menstrual problems and seeking paid menstrual leave.
The popularity of a variety of initiatives and motions initiated for menstrual leave shows the initiative is gathering traction rapidly.
As a culture, we need to continue the debate and address menstrual problems with a view to ensuring women’s equality. Even if this Bill is not passed, we can at least bring about a debate in Parliament on the issue. Let the lawmakers agree what the correct answer to this issue will be. Bihar has just shown us the way Menstruation and human rights – Frequently asked questions
How is menstruation-related to human rights?
Human rights are rights that every human being has under his or her human dignity. Menstruation is directly related to human integrity – since women can not access safe bathing facilities and safe and effective ways of handling their menstrual hygiene, they are not able to manage their menstruation with dignity. The mockery, isolation and humiliation pertaining to menstruation often threaten the concept of individual integrity. Gender inequality, extreme poverty, humanitarian crises and harmful traditions can all turn menstruation into a time of deprivation and stigma that can undermine its enjoyment of basic human rights. This applies to women and girls, as well as transgender men and menstruating nonbinary persons.
Throughout a person’s lifetime menstruating, they could easily spend three to eight years menstruating, during which they might face menstrual exclusion, neglect or discrimination. Various reasons influence how women are viewed during menstrual cycles (and certain occasions when they suffer vaginal bleeding, such as postpartum recovery)
The right to health – When women and girls lack the supplies and facilities to control their menstrual health, they can suffer adverse health consequences. Menstruation shame may often discourage women and girls from pursuing care for menstruation-related conditions or discomfort, negatively impacting their acceptance of the best possible health and wellness level.
The right to non-discrimination and gender equality -Menstrual stigmata and conventions may perpetuate discriminatory activities. Menstruation obstacles to education, employment , health care and civic events often reinforce inequality between the sexes.
What is UNFPA doing on the issue of menstrual health?
UNFPA has four broad approaches to promoting and improving menstrual health around the world.
First, UNFPA reaches women and girls directly with menstrual supplies and safe sanitation facilities. For example, in humanitarian emergencies, UNFPA distributes dignity kits containing disposable and reusable menstrual pads, undergarments, soap and related items. The UNFPA also helps to improve the safety of toilets and bathing facilities in displacement camps by working with camp officials, by distributing flashlights, and by installing solar lights.
Secondly, UNFPA works to improve menstrual education and information and associated human rights concerns. Through its youth programs and extensive interventions in sexuality education, such as the Y-Peer initiative, UNFPA makes both boys and girls realize that menstruation is normal and healthy. Often, UNFPA helps raise awareness that menstruation (menarche) does not indicate a physical or psychological preparation to marry or bear children. For starters, the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Initiative for Promoting Action to End Child Marriage teaches girls and societies about sexual health and child marriage harms. Female genital mutilation initiatives, like the UNFPA-UNICEF Collaborative FGM Reduction Initiative, increase consciousness of the harmful impact the procedure may have on menstrual safety.
Third, UNFPA promotes national health schemes which can improve menstrual wellbeing and provide care for menstrually disordered girls and boys. This involves providing health programs that are welcoming to teens and young adults, and will help girls and young women appreciate their bodies more and care about them. UNFPA often promotes the recruiting and training of health professionals, particularly midwives, who can provide treatment and knowledge on menstrual health complaints.
Last, UNFPA aims to collect data and information on menstrual health and its relation with global development-a long-overlooked study subject. For starters, UNFPA-supported surveys offer valuable insight into the awareness of girls and women about their menstrual cycles, wellbeing, and access to sanitation facilities.
Author: Arvind Bhati,
Lloyd law college 3rd year student