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Daily-current-affairs / 04 May 2024

Menstrual Leave in India: Legislative Strides, State Initiatives, and Global Perspectives : Daily News Analysis



The journey towards gender equality often traverses through the corridors of policy-making and legislative action. In the context of women's rights, particularly concerning menstrual health, recent political discourse in India has brought to light the necessity of recognizing menstrual leave as a fundamental aspect of women's welfare. This article delves into the legislative efforts and political debates surrounding menstrual leave in India, highlighting the progressive strides made by some states and the need for broader recognition and implementation across the nation. It also examines international perspectives on menstrual leave, underscoring the importance of addressing gender biases and stereotypes embedded in societal norms.

Legislators and Bills

The initiative to institutionalize menstrual leave in India gained momentum with the introduction of various Bills in the Parliament by conscientious Members of Parliament. S. Jothimani's 'Right to Menstrual Hygiene and Paid Leave Bill, 2019' aimed to integrate menstrual leave into the framework of women's rights, advocating for paid leave and penalties for refusal. Similarly, other lawmakers like Ninong Ering and Shashi Tharoor put forth Bills emphasizing the need to recognize women's sexual, reproductive, and menstrual rights. Despite these efforts, the Supreme Court's reluctance to intervene and the central government's inertia have impeded the realization of menstrual leave at the national level.

However, some Indian states have taken proactive measures to address this issue. Kerala, with its progressive stance, has historically recognized the importance of menstrual leave, setting a precedent for others to follow. By providing menstrual and maternity leave to students and government employees, Kerala exemplifies a commitment to women's welfare and gender equality. Yet, the lack of a cohesive national policy underscores the fragmented approach towards menstrual health in India.

Progressive Indian States, Asian nations

The pioneering efforts of certain Indian states in recognizing menstrual leave mirror similar strides made by Asian countries in combating menstrual stigma and discrimination. Countries like Japan, Indonesia, and South Korea have long acknowledged the need for menstrual leave, setting legal precedents to safeguard women's rights in the workplace. Meanwhile, the Western world, with few exceptions, lags behind in addressing menstrual health as a fundamental women's issue.

The disparity in global approaches to menstrual leave underscores the need for concerted action at both national and international levels. While international organizations like the International Labour Organization and the World Health Organization have advocated for menstrual leave as a women's right, its inclusion in national legislations remains inconsistent. India, despite its rich cultural heritage and progressive movements, has yet to fully embrace menstrual leave as a fundamental aspect of women's welfare.

Greater gender sensitivity needed

The recognition of menstrual leave as a women's right extends beyond legislative mandates; it necessitates a paradigm shift in societal attitudes towards menstruation. By acknowledging the differentiated gender experiences of women, policymakers can pave the way for greater gender equality and social change. Initiatives like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act must integrate menstrual leave provisions to protect vulnerable women in the workforce.

Moreover, political parties play a pivotal role in championing women's rights and gender equality. As the 2024 general elections approach, the inclusion of menstrual leave in party manifestos signifies a significant step towards addressing gender disparities. By openly discussing menstruation and challenging societal taboos, political leaders can foster a more inclusive and gender-sensitive society.


In conclusion, the discourse surrounding menstrual leave in India reflects broader struggles for gender equality and women's empowerment. While legislative efforts and progressive initiatives in certain states offer glimpses of hope, the lack of a cohesive national policy underscores the need for sustained advocacy and political will. By recognizing menstrual leave as a fundamental women's right and promoting greater gender sensitivity, India can pave the way for a more equitable and inclusive society. As the political landscape evolves, it is imperative for policymakers to prioritize women's welfare and address the entrenched biases that perpetuate menstrual stigma and discrimination.

Probable Questions for UPSC Mains Exam

1.    Discuss the legislative efforts and political discourse surrounding menstrual leave in India, highlighting the key Bills introduced in Parliament and the challenges faced in achieving national recognition. What role do state governments play in shaping policies related to menstrual health, and how can their initiatives contribute to broader gender equality?(10 marks, 150 words)

2.    Analyze the international perspectives on menstrual leave, with a focus on Asian countries' experiences compared to the Western world. How do cultural attitudes towards menstruation influence policy-making, and what lessons can India learn from global approaches to addressing menstrual stigma and discrimination? (15 marks, 250 words)

Source – The Hindu