Delhi-based food delivery service Zomato made history last week by being the first big-name Indian company to allow ‘period leave’ for employees who menstruate.
Zomato, founded in 2008, is a Deliveroo-esque service originally based in India, but in its 12-year lifespan has expanded its services globally to 24 countries (including the UK and USA).
The new policy, passed around to employees via email (and posted on their website) last Friday, details the bid to give those with periods extra time off work as a move towards de-stigmatising the function.
The statement read:
Starting today, all women (including transgender people) at Zomato can avail up to 10 days of period leaves in a year. […] Why 10? Most women have ~14 menstrual cycles in a year. Adjusting for the probability of you having your periods on a weekend, you can now rightfully avail 10 extra leaves compared to men.Deepinder Goyal, Founder and CEO of Zomato
The decision has been controversial, to say the least.
Writer-slash-director Radha Krishna Kumar praised the company (with a pun which may or may not have been intentional):
While some such as journalist and reporter Barkha Dutt were critical of the movement:
And in my personal opinion? The policy could see a terrific change in social attitudes towards menstruation and the huge stigma it still faces in India and across the world.
A study in 2015 showed that over a fifth of girls in India opt to drop out of education when their period starts, and over 70% of those who menstruate don’t have access to proper hygiene products, in no small part due to the ways in which periods are still viewed. This perpetuates a cycle of lack of education, lack of adequate resources, and lack of acceptance which harms young women and fosters inequality (which is already plentiful enough without the extra stress of period-taboo).
And this taboo is very much a global phenomenon. A US-based survey revealed that of those who menstruate, over half feel ashamed of it, and 42% have experienced external shaming- mostly from male family or friends.
It’s clear we need to start focussing on shifting our perspectives on this. It’s 2020! The world may be trash but that doesn’t mean we, as individuals, need to be. If you’ve never experienced the joy of menstruation: firstly, you’re incredibly lucky, but secondly, do some research! The amount of people I’ve met who somehow believe periods can be ‘held in’ still fills me with dismay. As far as I was aware, sex ed is mandatory, but apparently it’s managed to fail (what I hope is) a vocal minority.
And, as if we need any more proof of how dangerous an ignorance of scientific fact can be, need I remind you of Trump’s disastrous attempt to give COVID relief advice throughout the pandemic. Just… listen to doctors, guys.