Speech on menstrual leave by India Union Minister of Women and Child Development goes viral

The debate on menstrual leave is still controversial. Facing the raising urge from the society, India Union Minister of Women and Child Development Smriti Irani rejected the concept of mandatory paid menstrual leave policy last month. Irani explained menstruation is not a handicap but a natural process of women, so that no special provisions should be given. She also warned that such policy would lead to further discriminations to women in workforce and equal opportunities would be denied.

Instead, Irani announced a draft of national menstrual hygiene policy. Such draft officially acknowledged the importance of menstrual health and made it a policy goal by developing collaboration among government units, schools and other agencies.

Irani’s speech was commented “ignorance”, and is contradictory to the rising trend of menstrual leave provisions in the private sector, and has made the newly announced policy draft on menstrual hygiene getting less attention. Interestingly, “provisions like flexible working arrangements, such as work from home or support leave, to accommodate the specific needs of individuals during menstruation” is stated clearly in the policy draft. Would Irani’s speech be seen as contradictory to the policy draft and hinders the adaptation is noteworthy.