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The demand for period leave by teachers in Uttar Pradesh has sparked debate5 min read

August 17, 2021 4 min read


The demand for period leave by teachers in Uttar Pradesh has sparked debate5 min read

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Before we move into the raging debate, let’s revisit what a period is.

It is a euphemism for menstruation, the monthly bleeding that occurs in people assigned female at birth after puberty hits.

Click on the image below to know more about this natural occurrence:

But menstruation has always been spoken about in whispers and hushed voices. Even though half of the world population goes through it, menstruation still remains a taboo. And this taboo is closely linked with privilege and economic ability. This leads to period poverty— the lack of physical and emotional support towards menstruation. It includes lack of access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, basic hygiene facilities like hand washing, or waste management.

Click on the image below to know more about period poverty:

There is also an emotional side to period poverty that stems from unawareness and misinformation.

Click on the image below to know how to find the menstrual products for your needs:

Long distances, lack of public transport and inadequate washroom facilities have led to the demand.

70% of these teachers work in remote villages with some of them having to travel 30-60 kilometers every day covering the last leg of the distance on bullock carts or tractors due to an acute lack of public transport. Also, menstruation days are different (and difficult) compared to regular days for a lot of women. Many women go through severe cramps, nausea, and anxiety during this time.

The campaign was launched in July under the leadership of the Uttar Pradesh Mahila Shikshak Sangh. The association of female teachers represents more than 200,000 female teaching staff working in the 168,000 government-run schools.

The meeting of the association with the UP Labour Minister Swami Prasad Maurya. Image: Indian Express

One of the teachers, who is part of the movement, stated in an interview with BBC that teachers choose to use washrooms only during emergency.

There are six toilets in our school but on most days all of them are dirty. They are not cleaned every day and with hundreds of students using them, they are unusable.

Unnamed teacher, BBC

And this is just one story among many!

Period leave is not a new concept in India. Bihar has had two additional days of casual leave for its women government employees since 1992. Recently, the food delivery giant, Zomato, has also offered ten days of period leave for its employees who bleed every month.

Image: The Quint

The teachers have run a day-long campaign on twitter, placed their demand with the state women’s commission, and established dialogues with ministers, and legislators. But they are still waiting for their demand to be considered.

This move has opened space for a debate that was earlier
fanned by Zomato’s decision.

Some people believe that period leave might work against hiring of women who menstruate. Some also believe that it may make them look like the weaker sex. Then there are groups that believe that these discussions will help break the taboo around the subject, especially in countries where various religious and social restrictions are imposed on menstruating women.

What do you think?

In some communities in India. menstruating women are not allowed to enter religious places or kitchens. In other places, menstruating women are restricted to a ‘period hut’ on the outskirts of the village.

While women are working against regressive practices that limit a menstruating woman’s contribution to the environment, there is a still a long way to go. In India, 23 million girls drop out of school every year as they hit puberty due to lack of menstrual hygiene conditions.

Image: Scroll

The movement right now is limited to teachers but might be extended to students as well.

The conversation started by the group of teachers in Uttar Pradesh has allowed the whisper around the subject to move to a consistent murmur.

With excerpts from BBC

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