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Home > Lifestyle News > Health And Fitness News > Article > Womens Equality Day The missing case of period leave policy in the news business

Women's Equality Day: The missing case of period leave policy in the news business

Updated on: 26 August,2022 11:00 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Anagha Deshpande |

After talking to a few professionals in the news industry, it is apparent that the conversation around period leave policy is yet to begin

Women's Equality Day: The missing case of period leave policy in the news business

Representative image. Pic/iStock

It is 2022, and here we are, talking about something as basic as period leave. Though some companies in India have introduced period leave policy to create equitable work spaces, it is still absent in most of the well-established news organisations. After talking to a few professionals in the news industry, it is apparent that the conversation around period leave policy is yet to begin.

Sruti Suresh, a Bengaluru-based journalist says the discussion starts and ends among the employees. “Female colleagues discuss it, but it is not taken up to the bosses or the management. Nothing is done about it. Male colleagues too participate in the discussion, but again, it ends there,” she adds.

“I think all my female colleagues have suffered in silence too. No one really bothers discussing it or demanding a policy for it,” says Nivetha Sekar, a news professional based in Chennai.

Asked if the conversation around this should have been started long ago, a business journalist in Delhi, who did not wish to be named said, “I am sure my senior female colleagues did not delve into this back then because of the stigmatisation. Of course, I wish they had taken this up and should have been more aware. Even today, my senior female bosses have not taken a stand.”

Also read: Menstrual Hygiene Day: Here's are top health concerns of women during periods

The male approach

Talking about the involvement and support from the male counterparts, most women we spoke to said male bosses have been understanding. “Immediate male bosses have always been understanding when I ask for the day off due to my periods,” adds Nivetha.

While the Delhi-based journalist said, she usually avoids approaching male bosses for period leave. Even if she does, it is usually for ‘sick leave’. “Because of all the mansplaining, I usually avoid asking my male bosses for period leaves. Even if I do, I just call in sick,” she adds.

She also says that she does not want to generalise all male bosses as there have been supportive ones too. “I won’t put all of them under one umbrella. I know a few who involve themselves in conversations about period leave policy and have been empathetic too.”

Nature of work – a spoilsport

There were many opinions when it came to period leave policy among these women, but one thing stood common – nature of work.

“I don’t personally have a lot of issues during my periods, but many struggle through it. Having said that, I don't see implementation of period leave policy happening anytime soon as we belong to an industry that celebrates overworking people. Employees in the lowest food chain are not even allowed to take their annual leave easily. So, it is difficult to break that,” Sruthi states.

While Nivetha says women journalists definitely need a period leave policy. “We get a weekly off as it is in most media houses. We need at least a day or two of mandatory period leave every month as journalists, especially, the reporters who are constantly on the move.”

Highlighting the poor casual leave policy in the media organisations, she says, “I do not hesitate to take leave or take half the day off during my periods. The downside to this is I run out of casual leaves when I need it for other purposes. I had to ration my leaves accordingly, which was really annoying.”

The Delhi-based journalist stresses on the fact that taking sick leave in the media industry is not possible at times, considering the nature of the work. “Forget about period leave, we can’t take sick leaves too. I personally have breathing issues during my periods, but I manage it.”

How to break the pattern

All the women we spoke to said it is “high time” the long-due menstrual leave policy is implemented, but they also believe that it won’t happen anytime soon. However, they think a lot can be done to get there soon.

“I think writing more and creating more content around the topic will enable women journalists to come out with their own stories and struggles they face every month due to lack of period leaves,” says Nivetha.

Another professional believes women should be more vocal about the reasons they take leaves for. “For instance, I myself have taken sick leave by giving some or the other reason, but have never had the courage to say I needed leave for periods since there’s a stigma associated with periods that everyone works while they are menstruating. So, the more women have openly discuss and take period leaves, the easier it will be for us to destigmatize the hesitancy and help each other out with our health first,” says Vidhi, another Delhi-based journalist.


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