Smriti Irani Argues that Menstruation is not a Disability and is Against Paid Period Leave for Women

Smriti Irani
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Smriti Irani, the Union Minister for Women and Child Development, spoke out against paid menstruation leave in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, claiming that it will encourage discrimination against women in the workplace.

Irani was answering a question on whether the administration is considering enacting legislation pertaining to menstruation leave posed by Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Manoj Kumar Jha.
Since I am not the officiating ministry, I will only offer my personal opinion on the increasing number of economic choices that women are choosing to pursue nowadays. “We shouldn’t bring up issues where women are denied equal opportunities because someone who doesn’t experience menstruation has a certain perspective on the period,” the woman remarked.

Irani added that she too is a menstruating woman and that a woman’s menstrual cycle and period “are not a handicap,” but rather a “natural aspect of her life journey.”

She issued a warning against putting forth rules that, due to the opinions of nonmenstruating individuals, would unintentionally limit women’s chances.

The earlier menstrual leave program that Bihar implemented under former Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav was also discussed.

Irani underlined that the Women and Child Development Ministry does not have jurisdiction over the possible regulation of hazardous substances in sanitary napkins, citing the lack of complaints over government-supplied sanitary pads.

Menstrual leave has been a contentious issue since Spain just passed the first paid leave law in Europe, allowing for periods of pain.

In the Indian context, Irani stressed, however, that no proposal to require paid menstruation leave in all workplaces is presently being considered by the government. This was stated in answer to a question posed on December 8 by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor.

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