Friday, August 4, 2017

The Period Leave Debate

So as I start typing this blog, my mind is going -
Do you really want to type this out? What will "aunty" say?

Well I've disappointed many aunties in my life, so no harm done I say :D

The case: There have been many discussions going round on social media about a period leave policy which basically states that a woman can optionally take a day off on the first day of her period.

For: First of all, it's nice that nobody is sweeping discussions around menstruation under the carpet and talking openly. Secondly, for many women, the first day of the period is notoriously uncomfortable. It is nice to give them a dignified holiday, rather than forcing them to take a sick leave. This is because you are acknowledging that the woman is healthy and that it is her time of maintenance.

Against: Women have fought to fight in armies. They have come a long way in their fight to equality. Why should they need some frilly privileges about an obscure discomfort that happens so rarely? Doesn't it make a woman appear weaker in comparison to a man? It is already hard for a woman to get a job - she is judged whether she is married, pregnant, will have children, has small children. Why do we need to add a corporate HR approved reason?

I am for the leave policy. Even if I were to rationally put aside the fact that I would be a beneficiary, I find it to be a good idea. There are two categories of reasons why people oppose it - one is the fear of losing opportunities and the second is ignorance.

As mentioned, a woman gets into the workforce after a lot of preconceived notions that may be acted upon. So rest assured, that the woman who stays will be an ambitious one - an asset to the company. The leave will be optional - she would not leave a meeting for this. But on a lean day, she may prefer the rest. 12 days a year is 24 half days. For all you know, women might be using their sick days for this alone. Hence, as an astute company looking for pure talent will not lose out. In fact, by letting your ladies have the option of resting, they would be much more efficient the remaining days.

Ignorance is that many people do not know how debilitating it is for a large chunk of women. As it is considered shameful to talk about periods, talking about pain is a bigger taboo. It is supposed to be hidden, non-existent - so how will anyone - even other women - know what some healthy women suffer during their periods?

At the bare implementation level, I really don't care if this policy comes through or not. In terms of benefits, I might as well use my sick leave. I've met women who bring their baby to a meeting and everyone agrees because they are indispensable. I believe men and women are different but men and women are equal. Both of them perform tasks differently - there is no right or wrong way. There are countless number of women who have broken the glass ceiling. This policy is not going to make a difference. But it is encouraging to note that people are talking about this vocally.

I do not think this provision makes a woman appear weak. For the well trained mind - a day of rest during a period gives time for a woman to re-equip herself. Don't you think we ought to give her that choice considering it is but a small down time for a system that is responsible for significantly perpetuating the human race?

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