#FeministMondays | Why Have An Issue With Period Leave?

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I was sitting at my desk this morning, having breakfast, catching up on my emails, planning for the workday ahead when I chanced upon this.


‘Period leave shouldn’t be implemented. We need to normalise periods, pregnancy and all things women do to earn an equal status in society and not be looked down upon.’


Now, I don’t know about you but it made me cringe especially because it was said by a woman. If you have been following me for some time now then you’ll know well that I’m a huge proponent of women claiming and owning what they deserve. But when someone says periods and pregnancy needs to be normalised, it makes me angry. And when that someone is a woman, it hurts more. Why can’t we stop fighting amongst ourselves? One day it’s working mom vs a stay-at-home mom while on another it’s a crisis over the need for period leave.


For a woman who has terrible cramps, period leave is a blessing. Why say it's unnecessary then? #FeministMondays Click To Tweet


Let’s get a few facts right here. Men and women are different biologically. Women are not less than men but different. Why apologise for being different? Our bodies are different. And that’s why you cannot normalise or push under the carpet the health or biological issues that women face. We should not have to become like men to get our chances or be treated as equals. We should have all those things while being what we are and who we are. Yes, with our periods, period pains, period leaves and all.


Now, periods are not same for everyone. While I may be able to work during my periods, my friend is miserable during those 3 to 4 days of the month. Does that mean she should hide the fact, wear a white trouser and jump around to be taken seriously? No. And when someone says having or taking period leaves will affect our credibility it gives ammunition to those in power to thwart women’s progress using that as an excuse. Women shouldn’t have to explain why they need period leaves. Don’t limit your thinking to yourself. It’s a policy for women, not just one woman, not just you.


We should not have to become like men to get our chances or be treated as equals. We should have all those things while being what we are and who we are. Yes, with our periods, period pains, period leaves and all.


I think it’s about time we stop behaving like we are sorry for being women and having the anatomy of women. Or, that we need to provide an explanation for being one.


Pregnancy. I don’t even know where to start when someone says pregnancy needs to be normalised. No two pregnancies are the same. Ask and any doctor will tell you that. While I was able to work throughout my pregnancy, I have seen women who have had severe medical issues during those nine months. It wasn’t easy for me either. One day it was a backache another day it was exhaustion. Do we need to be sorry for that too?


Do you have any idea how poor the leave system of companies are when it comes to sick leaves too?


If we go by the logic of normalising then think about this. Married women or working mothers are often overlooked for promotions. So going by the logic we should not do anything that may hinder our progress, women shouldn’t be getting married or having babies. Makes sense? No, not at all.


It’s very well that a 32-week pregnant woman completed the Boston Marathon. I applaud her and am proud of her as a woman. It fills me with joy that Serena Williams won the Australian Open final when she was 8 weeks pregnant. We are no less than anyone. But I won’t expect every pregnant woman to do those things. And certainly, won’t want every pregnant woman to be judged, robbed of opportunities or thought less of because she isn’t able to do the same or needs a break.


What message do we want to spread?


The point we should be debating or fighting rather is not being marginalised for having health issues owing to periods or pregnancy.  That’s what we need to change not fight amongst ourselves when someone somewhere is willing to think of us as humans and give us something as harmless as a period leave or an extension of maternity leave.


Widen your perspective and don’t dilute an issue through a myopic stance. If you feel taking period leave will affect a woman’s progress at work, fight that mindset. Don’t say period leave is unnecessary. While you might not need it, someone else really might?





This post is part of the #FeministMondays series (previously called #IAmAFeminist series) on the blog. Inspired by a TEDx talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – We Should All Be Feminists, I intend to talk about the need for feminism through my posts, posts on my experience and observation as a female. I intend to talk about issues concerning women.

Join me and let’s work towards a world of gender parity. Remember, each voice counts. Tell me your story.





Linking to #mg hosted by Mackenzie Glanville


18 thoughts on “#FeministMondays | Why Have An Issue With Period Leave?”

  1. You may already know my thoughts on this, Naba, and they are very similar to yours. When we talk of a policy decision, we must think of the needs of all women just just our experience. As you have rightly pointed out, men and women are different. Men can pee anywhere but women need proper toilets. Now, is that asking for too much? We need empathy when we talk about such policies and definitely from women as well.
    Rachna recently posted…Why are Rituals Cruel to Some Women?My Profile

  2. I agree Nabanita. No two thoughts on this. One cannot disregard a woman’s health conditions in order to equate her with a man. Their physiology is completely different and It is simply not right to do so. Shocking though, that this had to come from another woman! One step forward and two steps backwards, sadly, that’s how it seems we are progressing these days.

  3. I agree with you! People need to realize that being different does not mean women are any less. And there are a lot of women who genuinely need these leaves. I know what it is to work on those days and I personally had a horrible experience a few days ago 🙁

  4. Normalisation of two equal things, one can understand… but normalisation of things that have nothing in common itself is so absurd!
    I have come across many who have to undergo the pains of the periods. Isnt it a good idea after all for the suffering soul to have some respite without bothering about anything else other than the health?
    As for the pregnancy, as you rightly said, no two pregnancies are same. I am the mother of two and I have two stories, experiences of my pregnancies! The needs each time were so different…but one thing was common to them was the pregnancy leave… For a working mother, its a boon!
    Sounds very insensitive when a woman starts contradicting the basics…
    – Anagha From Team MocktailMommies

  5. I would be all for it. I have just lost two days of my life to horrible cramps that have stopped responding to my regular painkillers.

  6. I resonate with your thoughts. I am a former IT employee and faced weird looks from men and women when i asked for a leave/work from home on my period days. Not to mention that i gave them exact reason not some sick story. I myself go through lot of pain during my period days. As you pointed out correctly, its different for everyone. One might manage but other cannot. I remember reading that post by a well known journalist, i guess people need to stop generalizing pain. As pain is not something to be compared its just PAIN and it different for different people.

  7. In the U.S. most people have to fight for every health benefit. There are women who get only 6 weeks maternity leave. If they have a difficult pregnancy and need to take off 4 weeks before the baby is born, then they only have 2 weeks left to have the baby and stay home with him/her. Many don’t even get paid during their maternity leave. They just do you the favor of holding your job for you. Living here, this period time sounds crazy. I’m sure I’m not understanding totally what period leave means because it’s the first I’ve heard of it, but I will read up on it. Wouldn’t all your coworkers know your personal business? Couldn’t there be just “sick leave” and you can use it as you like? I feel like it would just be another excuse for companies not to hire women.
    Lori Shandle-Fox recently posted…The Time My Big Mouth Got Me into Trouble: Volume 9My Profile

  8. I used to have extremely painful periods, sometimes even ended up throwing up in school. Although I am a lot better now, I can understand how miserable one would feel in the office during one such day. The period leave needs better thinking and process – like how is it going to impact salary, how many days would one be entitled to, can it be considered same as sick leave. The comments I read in social media is so infuriating. Why don’t people talk sensible anymore?
    Loved how you have put across your views.

  9. God how I connect with what you have written here. Why are all women and their “troubles” equated and not seen individually? Why are the HR & bosses so insensitive to it? The horrible innuendos and sniggers are the worst! But will there ever be a sensible solution to this? I think so as I have recently started to see a few organisations being sensitive to such issues and extend maternitiy leaves to not jut new moms but dads too – I feel thats a huge step!!
    Maybe next will be the period leave….
    SHALINI BAISIWALA recently posted…Your writing sucks!!! [ #MondayMusings ]My Profile

  10. I have never heard of period leave, I dread the days I have my period at work. I always have one really bad day and the rest I am absolutely fine. I think if I could work from home on that one day it would be such a comfort. The fact is we are different to men, yes we want to be treated equally and we are just as capable to be a great worker and deserve equal pay for equal work, but we still are different. #mg #mondaymusings

  11. At times, I can workout during the periods and at times I’m terrible. So, it’s not the same for one person too.
    🙂 Nice post.

  12. What hurts me the most is that it is always a woman who come out and says things like this.

    Thankfully, I have the most peaceful periods. No pain, no cramps nothing and I travel, work out and dance without letting it affect me. But I have friends who are almost bed-ridden when they have their period. It depends from one body to another. If someone wants to claim a period leave, they should have all the right to. But you don’t want to, leave it.

    Pregnancy is anything but normal. Women don’t need to use periods and pregnancy as an excuse to take leaves. These are a part of us and when there is a privilege associated with it, why not use it? It doesn’t make us any less of a woman.

    You couldn’t have said it bette, Naba. Men and women are not in-equal, they are just different.

    P.S: Since I was travelling this Monday, I couldn’t put up the post this Monday. I will do it next month for sure.
    Soumya recently posted…My Late Journey With Harry Potter: Part 3My Profile

  13. I hear you, but I feel a bit different about it. Agreed that painful periods are a reality, but it also occurs every month. Leave every month for atleast 2 days over and above your weekly off’s doesn’t seem right. It’s just giving them another excuse for not hiring women. I think there has to be a better solution for it. Maybe work from home, or compensatory leaves or something similar and I don’t like the tag period leave. It can be a sick leave, it’s a health condition, why treat it any different?

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