Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani voiced her opposition to the concept of paid menstrual leaves for women in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. Responding to a question posed by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) member Manoj Kumar Jha, Irani emphasized that menstruation is not a handicap but a natural part of a woman’s life journey.
Jha had inquired about the government’s measures to mandate employers to grant a certain number of leaves to female employees. Irani responded by cautioning against proposals that could potentially deny women equal opportunities based on viewpoints towards menstruation.
In addition to her stance on menstrual leaves, Irani informed the Rajya Sabha that the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has formulated a draft menstrual hygiene policy in consultation with stakeholders. The Centre already implements a scheme promoting menstrual hygiene among girls aged 10-19, supported by the National Health Mission through the State Programme Implementation Plan route. The scheme aims to increase awareness on menstrual hygiene, based on proposals received from states or Union Territories.
Irani also highlighted other initiatives taken by various ministries to promote menstrual hygiene. This discussion follows a report tabled in Parliament on Monday by the personnel ministry, stating that the matter of special menstrual leave for women government employees is a health-related issue best examined by the health ministry.
The Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice had noted in its report that menstruation debilitates most women and affects their productivity and performance at the workplace. The committee recommended menstrual leaves or sick leaves/half pay leaves per month or year for women without requiring any medical certificate or justification.
However, earlier in response to a question by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on December 8, Irani informed the Lok Sabha that there is no proposal under the government’s consideration to make a provision for paid menstrual leave mandatory for all workplaces.
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