Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Recognize ‘this leave’ as a woman’s right


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Significance of recognizing menstrual leave as a fundamental right for women

Why in the news?

The DMK’s 2024 election manifesto in Tamil Nadu pledges to advocate for a law mandating menstrual leave for women, promoting gender equality and women’s welfare.

Tracking Regional Progress:

  • Indian States:
      • The Kerala Sahitya Academy published work, Kerala in 19th Century, mentions that Kerala was the first (in the Cochin State) to recognize the need for “ period leave” for students and allowed it during examinations in 1912.
      • Kerala, in January 2023, introduced menstrual and maternity leave to all students above the age of 18.
      • Bihar, in 1992, allowed government employees two-day menstrual leave.
  • Asian Countries: 
    • Japan introduced menstrual leave in 1947, Indonesia in 1948, and South Korea. Taiwan and Vietnam have also implemented paid leave. But concerning the Asian countries, the progress made by the western world, except in Sweden and Spain, is still abysmal.

Global Scenario:

  • International Labour Organisation report, in 2003, asked nations to recognise menstrual leave.
  • The World Health Organization recognised a non-governmental organisation driven World Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28 from 2014.
  • India’s new code on Social Security, 2020, passed by Parliament, which consolidated existing labour laws (yet to be notified), has not included the aspect of menstrual leave in its code.

Evidence related to impact:

Women laborers in the sugarcane fields of Maharashtra and agricultural laborers in Telangana have been documented to have hysterectomies as menstrual-related absences could endanger their livelihoods.

Legal Initiatives in India:

  • Bill in Tamil Nadu: In December 2021, S. Jothimani, Congress Member of Parliament (MP) from Tamil Nadu, had introduced a Private Member Bill named, ‘Right to Menstrual Hygiene and Paid Leave Bill, 2019’, which sought to bring menstrual leave into the ambit of the rights of a woman.
  • Bill in Arunachal Pradesh: Congress MP from Arunachal Pradesh, introduced a private member Bill on menstrual leave in 2017 (the Menstruation Benefit Bill, 2017).
  • Bill in Kerala: Shashi Tharoor, Congress MP from Kerala, introducing a similar Bill named The Women’s Sexual, Reproductive and Menstrual Rights Bill, 2018.
  • The Supreme Court of India, early in 2023, refused to entertain a public interest litigation in Shailendra Mani Tripathi vs Union of India which sought direction to the state on menstrual leave; it thought that it is in the policy domain of the government. 

Way Forward: 

  • Legislation and Policy Implementation: Advocate for the passage of bills at both the state and national levels that mandate menstrual leave for women. Additionally, ensure effective implementation and enforcement of these policies to guarantee that women can avail themselves of their entitled leave without fear of discrimination or repercussions.
  • Awareness and Education: Launch comprehensive awareness campaigns to remove shame of menstruation and promote understanding of its biological, social, and cultural aspects.

Mains PYQ 

Q Women empowerment in India needs gender budgeting. What are requirements and status of gender budgeting in the Indian context?

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