I want to start this conversation with a question. Don’t you think the current work system, especially in India, is biased toward males? Now we have women in equal partnership at the workplaces. Has anything changed or adapted to the needs of women?
I am not here criticizing the work culture. It is okay that we work differently than men; even our bodies function with different basic needs and amenities. We need a sanitary pad/tampon dispenser in our washroom, paid menstruation leaves, or sick leaves for periods. Can I be straight with this reason? Seeing the current scenario, I can’t. Below are such things that we need to normalize in the workspaces to make them more women-friendly.
Free products are not a need but a necessity
If toilet paper, handwash, and even paper towels are free, period products including tampons, sanitary napkins, and hot water bottles should be kept available in the offices. Instead of imposing a linear work structure, our self-confidence, productivity, emotions, and harmony will influence when equipped with basic amenities. I still see my female subordinates feeling embarrassed when they take sanitary napkins out of bags. We need to find solutions and work towards accessibility.
The normalizing of the period at the workplace
Companies’ future and employee satisfaction go hand in hand.
The organization looking for a better future should value their employees and adopt a new philosophy of promoting emotional, physical, and social well-being.
The employer should provide optimal working conditions to everyone. Satisfaction in a team also means more productivity and creativity. Develop and implement a strategy that empowers female employees and enables a more inclusive corporate culture. The key to this lies in considering the menstrual cycle and not ignoring the experiences. It is crucial to develop a strategy that does not perceive the monthly cycle as a burden, disease, or problem but accepts it as a natural body process and strength. We bleed; we are not sick.
It is a sign of our health! Cycle love instead of period shame. We need to make it happen.
Coping up with stress
When we bleed, our energy levels go down — yet, expected to perform like a regular day. We all have a different threshold to pain. For women who experience severe physical symptoms, coming to work can cause a great deal of stress. Symptoms like severe pain, sleep deprivation, mood swings, or nausea are reported during mensuration and not reported for fear that their male colleagues or employer will not take them seriously. The solution is to provide flexible working hours and regular breaks throughout the day during extreme symptoms. Taking a 10-minute break or just lying down can alleviate some of this unnecessary stress. If provided these options, women can share their thoughts openly and be vocal about the problems. This open and understanding environment promotes harmony and equality at the workplace. Support women and eliminate period stigma.
Out of office
Providing menstrual leave is not just providing comfort, but it shatters all the taboo of saying, “I am menstruating, and I can’t make it to work today.” Even in a hybrid work setting, working continuously at one place that too in extreme pain brings a lot of discomforts.
However, this topic remains a controversial one. Seeing men’s hierarchical supremacy and dominance, we always fight hard to get into leadership roles and desirable projects. Providing paid menstrual leave can be gendering of the workplace and using women’s biology against them—different minds and beliefs. Gender blindness or gender discrimination or giving comfort to their employee, organizations need to develop a holistic period leave strategy keeping labor law in mind.
She is worried because she was down with a fever last week and if she again takes sick leave, what his boss will think. She is concerned because of her white skirt. She is too emotional today. OH, she is PMSing today. We need to stop making assumptions and start working on solutions. Boys, if you have a female co-worker, friend, mother, daughter, or wife, then it is your issue too. Don’t quietly sit and be a watcher. We need to normalize talking about periods at the workplace.
What do you think?
What is your experience of menstruation in the workplace? Is your office equipped with basic amenities? Your male colleagues are supportive when you are down with bleeding? What do you think employers can do to make things better? Do you believe paid period leave is a good idea?
Let us chat in the comment section below.