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Jan 03, 2018 06:25 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Startup CEOs oppose 2-day menstruation leave, call move ‘regressive’

The bill proposes that women working in a private or public sector should get two days of paid menstrual leave each month.

Moneycontrol News @moneycontrolcom

Even as Menstruation Benefit Bill 2017 has been moved by a Member of Parliament from Arunachal Pradesh, the debate has ensued in India’s startups whether it’s economically feasible to give 24 days leave in a year to women employees.

The bill proposes that women working in a private or public sector should get two days of paid menstrual leave each month.

While some startup CEOs say that bill has the right intentions behind it, it may severely impact employability of women by small businesses which are always cash-starved and looking to maximise resources.

Here are some views regarding the bill from startup founders, investors and entrepreneurs working in women’s hygiene sector.

Deep Bajaj, founder of PeeBuddy which makes disposable women urinary funnel:

“I find this move regressive. The idea should be to have equal opportunity and inclusive policies than discriminatory ones which go on to only worsen the gap!

How private organisations and working professionals handle the issue of menstruation, should be left to them.

A two-day leave defies logic - no two women get down the same day, not every woman experiences severe pain during the period.

Once implemented – everyone would avail of it and the entire office would know about this issue (which most women would like to keep it private).

It would get almost impossible to have a controlled office environment.

Somewhere organisations could inadvertently get double cautious while hiring women.

There are many issues which need to be addressed (such as safety of women / clean toilets/disposal of sanitary products)

The Indian Parliament needs to spend time on these issues than propose ‘knee-jerk’ policies.”

Nisha Bains, founder, and CEO of Purganics which makes women hygiene products including organic sanitary pads:

“Globally women have been striving for equality in the workplace and to shatter glass ceilings. In that spirit, I don't think we should ask for and be given concessions for just being a woman - that in itself is discriminatory!

I do realize that some women have a hard time physically during their periods. For those women, I think there needs to be some flexibility in the workplace to work from home.

This privilege, however, should be used by women based on the honor system and not abused.

There should be equal pay for equal work. Having periods is a natural phenomenon and not every woman needs special treatment. For the ones that do employers should have flexibility built in.

I take this (proposal) as an encouraging sign that the government is thinking of women's welfare.

However, it would be more helpful to perhaps abolish the 12 percent GST on feminine hygiene products, focus on getting healthier femcare products which are chemical free and safer for women to use.

Perhaps the state can have sponsored or subsidized quality daycare centers to take some of the child-rearing pressures off working families.

Women may lose opportunities in the workplace with this move. Though the employer may not say it the company may think twice before hiring a woman.

It's about business and if half of the workforce is not present then it could create a problem for a company.”

Read more: Menstruation benefit leaves proposal could prove detrimental

Anuradha Acharya, Founder of MapMyGenome, a personal genomics company:

“The bill is absolutely regressive and will not empower women. The only thing this may do is reduce the number of working women.

With six months of maternity, we have already seen reducing numbers and this will make it worse for our company.

MapMyGenome has 65 percent women, if all of them start taking two days off then our productivity will go down drastically.”

Sonal Arora, Vice President, TeamLease Services:

“Menstrual leave for women is a rather misguided attempt. On the one hand, we are really trying to get rid of the age-old mindset where women are excluded from day to day activities during this period and girls in rural India are forced to skip school and exams.

On the other hand, such tokenism is likely to do more harm. Employers and colleagues will see it as one more extra benefit that women employees enjoy.

Women any case have the option of taking a sick leave or personal day off should they really require this support.

Not only is it condescending but also of limited efficacy because less than 10 percent of India’s female workforce works in the organized sector.”

Tarun Bothra, Co-Founder & CTO, Saathi Pads:

"I believe that this bill should pass. It is a good Initiative that needs to be implemented. We should understand there is a physical condition during menstruation days.

So it would be good if this bill comes into action. Yes, women should be entitled to a two day leave every month.

Opportunities are always equal with no gender discrimination, for everyone generally. It depends on a person how hard they work to grab it.

A 2-day off or rest will not let anyone left behind. Opportunity is achieved by hard work and determination despite a number of days you work.

The government also needs to focus on women Hygiene. This year's Global Entrepreneurship Submit tagline was "Women First, Prosperity for All." Now will be a good time to put it into action."

(Compiled by Sabahat Contractor)
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