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;
- 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.
- 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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