Menstruation and the inconveniences that come with it, is a reality working women cannot escape. As a woman I had about 10 years of prior mental preparation, before I decided to take up a job, that I might have to adjust with it through-out my work life. Although personally I have no clear definition of the Glass Ceiling, but I can say that the decision to work during those 5 days, when I don’t feel like working at all, was akin to breaking the glass ceiling. Not just a physical but also a mental barrier, that I might not get any special treatment for being a menstruating woman at the workplace.
During my full time work tenure I never took a leave. I do know of some of my peers who suffered much more than I did and would discreetly talk to the boss for half a day leave or maybe a break from meetings or to be excused from rigorous tasks. It was the same kind of personalized preference that a pregnant worker used to get and the bosses are usually sensitive or sensible enough to not push a worker who is not feeling too well. But we were more focused on equality and equal opportunity.
I feel if there a blanket ruling about menstrual leaves for every woman worker, it will create lesser job opportunities for them. Already Marriage and Pregnancy are two big fear factors which work on the minds of the HR managers and the job options during the most productive period of women. With Menstrual Leave, employers would have yet another factor to consider when it comes to employing women. This might become detrimental and close many doors for women.
Besides, there is a certain dichotomy here – on one hand we are expressing our need to be treated equally (which is why we want to work during our pregnancy as well) and on the other hand we want special treatments which might backfire on our own stand. We want to fight wars, join the services and do what men can do, but then we want to be given special leave for our periods – it does not make sense. And, there’s another thing – we hate the PMS jokes, and this will only lead to a an increase in them!
By Sangeeta Bodhi Das
Sangeeta is a published writer and illustrator. She currently works as a consultant with an NGO in New Delhi. Apart from that, she also works as a storyteller and a creative writer for English and Bengali language. Sangeeta has previously been a Jury member for Bal Bhavan’s nationwide competitions for children.
She has illustrated and designed books for Pratham Books and NAZ foundation. She has also published two stories as part of the collections – ‘Lighthouse in the storm’, published for the ‘Book Therapy’ project of AWIC (Association of Writers and Illustrators for children) and the anthology, ‘One Big Family’, Published by the National Foundation for Communal Harmony. That apart, Sangeeta also writes about women and gender issues.