It’s no secret that the concept of period leave in India, isn’t exactly a novel idea. More and more companies in the private sector are offering their female employees two days a month as period leave, over and above their standard leaves. However, women in tier II and tier III cities aren’t afforded the luxury of period leave, particularly if they work in government bodies.
And now, female teachers in Uttar Pradesh have begun campaigning for three days of menstrual leave every month. The reason being, long distances to travel without adequate facilities to maintain hygiene, add to their overall misery during that time of the month.
The campaign, which was initiated last month, is led by the Uttar Pradesh Mahila Shikshak Sangh, an association of female teachers representing the needs of more than 200,000 female teaching staff working across 168,000 government-run schools, has gained momentum since its inception.
Sulochana Maurya, president of the association and the principal of a school in Barabanki district, claims that more than 70 per cent female staff are posted in villages. In a statement to the BBC, she said, “It's well known that menstruating women need rest as many experience physical discomfort and emotional agony and travelling 30-60kms to reach schools in remote rural areas can be especially taxing.”
She went on to add, “In some areas, unserviced by regular public transport, they have to hitch a ride, sometimes travel the last mile on tractors or bullock carts.”
She also attested to the fact that many female students skip school during their monthly cycles. “At the moment, we are fighting for leave for teachers. Later, it can be extended to students too,” she says.
Maurya and members of the association have submitted their demand to the state women's commission. The association even held a day-long Twitter campaign, and are presently petitioning ministers, legislators, and people's representatives to meet their demands. However, a spokesperson for the government told the BBC that they are yet to consider the demand.