Reducing pain – On the issue of menstrual pain leave | 27th February 2023 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

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What's the article about?

  • It talks about the ongoing issue of menstrual pain leaves.


  • GS1: Salient features of Indian Society;
  • GS2: Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions and Bodies constituted for the Protection and Betterment of the Vulnerable Sections;
  • Essay


  • Recently, the Supreme Court refused to entertain a PIL seeking a direction to all the states to frame rules for menstrual pain leave for female students and working women at their respective workplaces.
  • The SC observed that the issue falls under the policy domain of the government and asked the petitioner to approach the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development with a representation seeking a policy decision on the issue.


  • Many barriers on the road to gender equality have been removed, but many roadblocks remain.
  • The battle for rights related to reproductive health has been a hard-fought one but women have been successful at persuading governments to initiate policy changes to improve their health and well-being.
  • In India, the Maternity Benefit Act that was enacted by Parliament in 1961 has been amended from time to time to give women better benefits;
    • for instance, paid maternity leave has been extended from the earlier 12 weeks to 26 weeks.
    • It is in this context that the Supreme Court of India’s directive to a petitioner to approach the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development to frame a policy on menstrual pain leave has to be seen.
  • Pointing out that there are different “dimensions” to it, the SC said the biological process must not become a “disincentive” for employers offering jobs to women.
  • In India, Kerala and Bihar have menstrual pain leave; the food delivery app Zomato has also introduced it. Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Spain and Zambia have this policy included in labour laws.
  • Many feminists have, however, decried the move, saying it will reinforce negative gender stereotypes.
  • Also in India, there are other problems in need of addressing such as lack of sanitation facilities in school and at the workplace, especially in the informal sector.
  • Between 2010 and 2020 the percentage of working women dropped from 26% to 19%, according to World Bank data.
  • To encourage more women to join the workforce, it is imperative they have access to higher education and more opportunities.

Way Forward:

  • Sometimes, girls have to drop out from school simply because there are no toilets.
  • In a world that should strive to become a better place for all, it is the responsibility of the wider society and governments to ensure that no section is left behind.
  • Many countries are trying out four-day work days for a quality life, while others are offering paternity leave so that parenting can be, rightly, equally shared, and also to ensure employers do not see recruiting women as a disadvantage.
  • All constraints on the road to gender equality and equity must be done away with.

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