Period Leave. Hmm…

Period leave - a great idea [at least it has got us talking about it!]; but is it?

To start with, let's lay down the major arguments against the concept of granting women leave when they are on their periods. Women have forever been struggling to be treated at par with men in this largely patriarchal world, especially when it comes to the workplace. This 'special' leave could jeopardize all the work that has gone into the equality movement and legitimize the claim that women are not as 'efficient' as men.

There is also the view that period leaves bear a dangerously close resemblance to traditional practices, followed in some Asian countries and especially in India, that prevent women when they are menstruating from living a normal life. Also, if one were to accept the pain and discomfort experienced by women during periods as being debilitating, there is always the sick leave option, say those against period leaves. So these largely sum up the anti-leave arguments.

Now, those arguing for period leave say that women should not have to prove their competence by working on days when they are undergoing excruciating pain. They can, but they should not have to, is their argument. The monthly dosage of pain is normal and so should be the granting of leave on such days. It does not qualify as sick leave because it is not a disease or physical condition.

Gender equality has sometimes been misconstrued, both by men and women, as gender similarity, of women trying to be like men. In this context, the concept of period leave could be seen as accepting that women are different from men and yet, demanding a level-playing field.

There is no doubt that these are strong arguments put forth by both camps, however, gender equality is yet to be realized fully and the concept of period leave puts at risk all the progress made on the equality front so far. That is too great a risk to take. Hence, a brilliant idea it may be, but period leave could perhaps wait a little, at least till the world can reconcile the differences between a man and a woman without putting any one gender above another.