Culture Machine, an Indian digital media company, is advocating the idea that women should get a paid leave for the first day of their period. While many women like the idea of taking a day off, others find the idea regressive. We rounded up the POPxo edit team and asked them, should women get to stay in bed to deal with those annoying cramps? Here’s what they had to say:
1. ‘My thoughts about a ‘period leave’ are the same as my thoughts about ‘women’s only parking’ or ‘seats reserved for women’ - Srishti Gupta, Senior Lifestyle Writer
My thoughts about a ‘period leave’ are the same as my thoughts about ‘seats reserved for women’. It’s absolutely not required and instead of treating us as normal human beings and one-half of the total population, we’re treated as a group of people who need special attention and sympathy. I’m sure the people behind this campaign had their heart in the right place when they suggested it, but when it comes to talking about equality, it’s a step backward. My periods aren’t easy breezy but they definitely aren’t an excuse to take a day off, unless I require medical attention. Plus, as pointed out earlier, we do get a casual leave per month, another one isn’t required. As much as I, a person with a uterus, love the idea of a leave, the feminist (and dominant) part of my brain is just not okay with the idea of a ‘period leave’!
2. ‘Any professional woman who’s in the middle of a hectic work week will not just take an off for a day because it is her first day’ - Amrita Paul, Junior Lifestyle Editor
I have been having my periods for over 10 years now, and still every year, every month the anguish and pain hit me like it is happening for the first time. Having said that, I have almost never had to take an off from school, college or work because of my periods. Any professional woman who’s in the middle of a hectic work week will not take just take off for a day because it is her first day (unless it is absolutely necessary). It is important to realize that an initiative like this is not aiming to put women on the back foot because we bleed once a month. To solve a problem we have to be able to name it. I think it will address the lack of awareness and shame about our periods when it comes to our workplaces - many of whom (unlike POPxo) is spearheaded by male leaders who don’t relate to the inherent discomfort of the situation.
3. ‘It might take us away from the debate of gender equality’ - Shivani Shrivastava, Trending Editor
I dread periods every month and of course, I’d love to have an extra off but I don’t want it to be tagged as ‘period leave’. Women will be considered as ‘privileged’ if these leaves are implemented and that’s something that’ll further push us away from the debate of gender equality. Yes, it’ll make my life slightly easier but then again, I don’t ‘need’ it. Also, just like other things in India, some women might just ‘misuse’ this leave and then, it’ll completely defeat the purpose.
4. ‘I feel we are pushing the line a bit too much now’ - Manasvi Jaitly, Junior Wedding Editor
I heard about this whole 'period leave' thing on the radio. And for a minute I really couldn't believe it. Do we really need an entire day off? And does it have to be the first day? Do we have to go that far in the name of women empowerment? Aren’t we pushing the envelope a bit too far now? Also, you say you do it as an attempt to fight the taboos surrounding periods. But, by giving it all that extra attention, maybe you’re just agreeing with everyone who treats it like a disease. I’ve been having my periods since the age of 13 and I’ve come to understand my body well. Periods are a sign of good health and I really don’t mind them all that much.
I would love a monthly paid leave, but only when I really want one. It’s the continuous office work that brings me down at times and that’s when the option of a leave at hand feels great.
5. ‘It surely would be a luxury if given the day off, but in my opinion, it shouldn’t be treated as a compulsion’ - Sharon Alphonso, Lifestyle & Beauty Writer
Considering the fact that every woman’s body clock works differently, the same goes for the level of pain each woman experiences during her periods. It surely would be a luxury if given the day off, but in my opinion, it shouldn’t be treated as a compulsion. I think using up a casual leave on the day when aunt flow pays a surprise visit should do just fine. Plus, most sanitary napkin ads on television these days are always encouraging women to get out there and own those five days like a boss - which offers women comfort on the go! So why stay home and curl into bed when you can get out there and treat the day like a regular one? More power to you, ladies.
6. ‘Of course I wouldn’t mind an extra leave to cure my period cramps but in retrospect, I think I can do the same with any of my casual leaves’ - Isheeta Sharma, Junior Lifestyle Editor
Of course, I wouldn’t mind an extra leave to cure my period cramps but in retrospect, I think I can do the same with any of my casual leaves. Though period pain sucks, it lasts a couple of hours and then life is back to normal. In fact, it kind of helps when you’re around people not thinking about how much it aches all the time! We could just add extra casual leaves to all of our accounts and be done with it! I mean in a country like India, period leaves don’t really top my list of priorities as a woman.
7. ‘ We do get one casual leave per month and it’s up to us how we want to make use of it’ - Sonali Pawar, Beauty Writer & Editorial Coordinator
Personally, I feel there’s no need for having a separate ‘period leave’. We do get one casual leave per month and it’s up to us how we want to make use of it. Moreover, every girl’s body is different - some do not experience any kind of discomfort or pain at all and some girls can experience pain for 1-2 days. Also, I would love to have some sort of distraction when I’m on my period and I’d rather be at work, than sit at home, clutching my abdomen and crying in pain. Lastly, muscle relaxants are a gift!
8. ‘ However comforting the idea sounds, I would really not want to sit at home during my periods and wait for the pain to go away’ - Manvi Malhotra, Senior Wedding Writer
However comforting the idea sounds, I would really not want to sit at home during my periods and wait for the pain to go away! In fact, it’s so much better to be somewhere else, do something and forget about the pain (it’s difficult I know, but TRY girls) altogether. Even though it’s pretty hard to concentrate at work during those dreadful days, it’s still better than giving undue attention to my cramps! I can always leave early or reach my workplace slightly late if the pain is that bad, but a ‘period leave’ I feel is not required!
9. ‘There could be an option for monthly leave when you’re on your period but it shouldn’t be mandatory’ - Arushi Sakhuja, Editorial Coordinator
It’s but natural to get pain and feel lethargic and cranky on the first day of our period. In such a condition one is sometimes unable to work to their full potential and be productive, but this lasts only a couple of hours. In my opinion, there could be an option for monthly leave when you’re on your period but it shouldn’t be mandatory! It would be a personal choice whether one wants to take the leave or not, as everyone’s body is different and every first day of your period may or may not be so painful. Furthermore, sitting at home and constantly thinking about your pain would not guarantee any relief, I rather keep myself busy to keep the discomfort off my mind!
10. ‘I have never had to experience this kind of pain so a leave would be a total waste for me!’ - Purva Desai, Wedding Editor
I personally think it’s a brilliant initiative considering a lot of women go through excruciating pain and some cannot even go through their day normally. Although for me, I have never had to experience this kind of pain so a leave would be a total waste for me!
11. ‘Every woman’s experience is different and one should be able to take an off if they want to’ - Krithika Kumar, Features Writer
Periods are the worst. The pain is unbearable and the mood swings are totally beyond our control. But being at home during this time would only make me think about the pain and the pain alone. Coming to work and taking my mind off it sounds like a much better option than a period leave. This is to not deny that the kind of pain every woman experiences is different and one should be able to take an off if they want to. But I am happy with the option of one casual leave every month which I can use for whatever purpose that I’d want to.
12. ‘To take a leave from work is something that we get to decide for ourselves’ - Srishti Sabharwal, Senior Fashion Writer
I’m sure the initiative was taken with something in mind. But personally, I feel ‘pain’ is just another sensation. Yes, period pain can be really excruciating for a lot of people. I myself get really bad cramps for the first three days. But to take a leave from work is something that we get to decide for ourselves. It also completely depends on the kind of work your job requires you to do. Staying at home makes me focus only on the pain while coming to work and being around people honestly makes it better. Also, bleeding every month isn’t a disease, but part of being a woman. And there’s no reason for me to get a ‘period leave’ for that. I’ll take a casual leave if I need one for the same.
13. ‘I work as hard as a man does for his company, I am sure every girl does, and I wouldn't want the credit of my hard work to be compromised just because I took that extra leave’ - Chhavi Porwal, Senior Trending Writer
Being a girl, I understand the genuine discomfort women experience during periods - cramps, mood swings, the whole gamut. And who doesn’t like an extra day off, right? But then, I can’t claim to be as capable of working in any company as a guy, both mentally and physically, which I would like to. I work as hard as a man does for his company, I am sure every girl does that too, and I wouldn’t want the credit of my hard work to be compromised just because I took that extra leave. I anyway can take a leave if I am not feeling well. I don’t want to put a ‘period’ label on it. I am not weaker than a man when it comes to the quality of my work, so I would not let my period become an ‘excuse’ for any such comment. I am a woman and I am good despite getting periods every month. And that’s all!
14. ‘Knowing that I’d have work to divert my mind is a holiday enough’- Sayunkta Jain, Editorial Coordinator
Monthly leave for the first day of our period… hmmm! Sitting at home struggling with the horrid pain, trying what seems like a thousand different positions so I’m in less discomfort, the constant trips to the kitchen for cups of hot beverage, and when nothing works (which does happen sometimes, BTW), cribbing for the rest of my day until I finally get the sweet release of a so-called ‘good night’s sleep’. Yeah, that ought to do it! For me, knowing that I’ll have work to do at the office to divert my mind from all the PMSing is holiday enough! I’d get to see my friends, eat everyone’s lunch, be around people I like, talk maybe go out to chill after work, DO SOMETHING productive, what else do you need from a 9 to 5 life, eh?!