Period leave debate divides the Indian Internet, again!

Dristi Sharma
Dristi SharmaDec 15, 2023 | 14:16

Period leave debate divides the Indian Internet, again!

People are taking to X to complain about the issue. Photo: dailyO

There's no denying that menstruation remains taboo in India, requiring extensive work and open discussions to dispel misinformation around topics related to menstrual health and sexual education.

However, when Smriti Zubin Irani, a BJP MP and Minister for Women and Child Development, addressed the issue of period leave and described it as 'not a handicap,' it ignited heated debates and discussions across social media platforms.


What happened

The topic of period leave policies has been recurrently discussed by women and men, and has even reached parliamentary discussions.

Although India does not have a specific policy on period leave, a comment made by Smriti Irani has reignited the debate on this matter.


  • On Wednesday (December 13), Smriti Irani responded to a query by MP Manoj Kumar Jha in the Rajya Sabha regarding period leaves.

  • She emphasized that menstruation is a natural aspect of life and shouldn't necessitate special leave provisions.

"As a menstruating woman, menstruation and the menstruation cycle is not a handicap, it’s a natural part of women’s life journey."
- Smriti Irani

Irani expressed concern that granting menstrual leave might lead to discrimination against women in the workforce. She stated, "We should avoid proposing issues where women are denied equal opportunities just because someone who doesn't menstruate has a particular viewpoint towards menstruation."

Following her remarks, numerous individuals took to Twitter, expressing either their disagreement with or support for her stance.

Let's take a look. 


Supporters of Irani

Kangana Ranaut 

Unsurprisingly, Kangana Ranaut supported Smriti Irani's perspective, echoing her sentiments on her Instagram stories. Kangana shared, "Unless it’s a specific medical condition, women don’t require paid leaves for periods. Please understand, it’s periods, not an illness or handicap."

Check out her complete story:

Mama Earth's founder 

Ghazal Alagh, the founder of Mama Earth, expressed on X that the period leave policy could potentially regress the "hard-earned equality" for women.

"We have fought for centuries for equal opportunities & women's rights and now, fighting for period leave might set back the hard-earned equality. Imagine employers factoring in 12-24 fewer working days for female candidates. A better solution? Supporting work from home for those in pain."
- Ghazal Alagh on X

Support for men

  • Apart from these perspectives, other individuals expressed concerns about men and their leave entitlements, supporting Smriti Irani's viewpoint.
  • For instance, a user with the handle TheSquind took to Twitter, stating, "If women get menstruation leave, I deserve menstruation care leave."

Read the full post here:

  • Others tried to point out the contrast between women wanting to take period leaves or going to temples during their period:

Against Irani 

K Kavitha, a Member of the Telangana Legislative Council, conveyed feeling "disheartened" by Irani's comments, labeling them "appalling" and indicating that denying paid leave for menstruation days "dismisses the genuine pain" experienced by women.

  • The Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader also criticized the whole approach as 'misogynistic' and erroneous.

Check out some reactions: 


The bottom line

  • Repeatedly, discussions have surfaced regarding the period leave policy and whether women should be granted leave during menstruation, despite studies demonstrating that periods can be as painful as heart attacks.

  • Globally, some countries, including Spain, have adopted period leave policies. Although India lacks an official policy, numerous corporate companies permit women to take period leaves.

  • It's crucial to acknowledge that implementing a fair and inclusive policy is essential to break the taboo surrounding menstruation.

Last updated: December 15, 2023 | 14:16
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