Sumanti Sen is an English Literature graduate who believes "there's just one kind of folks. Folks.".
As World Menstruation day approaches us on May 28th, the topic may be out in the open but the stigma remains in the society as a whole. #MenstrualHygieneWeek is a campaign by The Logical Indian to create awareness, ask pertinent questions, get answers and bust myths.
Going through menstruation is a monthly struggle for all women. From going to school to participating in sports, from attending a wedding to appearing for an exam, menstruation is a monthly guest.
Menstruation never comes without challenges, especially for working women. Working for nine hours in an office while menstruating is not easy. While all of us face different challenges, The Logical Indian spoke to Diya, 24, who works in a social sector in Mumbai, about the issues she has to deal with in office while on her periods.
“As a woman, I have had to deal with a fair share of challenges at my workplace when it comes to menstruation. I am certain that a lot of other women must have faced the same challenges, but it is important to talk about them openly in a world where people go ‘hush-hush’ whenever the topic is raised.
I work in a Mumbai-based company and am a happy, carefree and independent woman. I believe in dealing with problems rationally and practically, but I also believe that it is important that the system and the people around you are equally rational, practical and most importantly, supportive. That, however, is not always the case.
I do not know if this is an issue only at my workplace, but an absence of vending machines for sanitary napkins in office, and needless to mention, in public places too, is something that I have always been troubled with.
To make things worse, there is an absence of proper disposal methods of sanitary napkins and tampons. My workplace, rather a several workplaces, do not approve of work from home or a paid leave during menstruation. People perhaps fail to understand the seriousness of the difficulty that women have to go through.
In a place where 80% of the workforce is made up of women, our organization does not provide sanitary napkins in first-aid boxes and women’s washrooms, let alone vending machines. All workplaces should have sanitary napkins in the emergency kits, and they should also make sure to re-stock once these are over. This becomes more problematic when one starts menstruating in the middle of the office routine and is not prepared for it.
I have also faced difficulty in availing special leaves on a particular day of my periods since a male manager would not understand the discomfort that I am going through. My job demands a lot of travelling and fieldwork, but unfortunately, these are not taken into consideration while planning out the visits. I feel that providing a resting room and a hot water bag could also dispense comfort.
Although the issues I am talking about are issues almost all of us face, these are not to be taken lightly. These might seem like petty issues that can be easily overcome, but they are really not. It is harrowing, to say the least when you realise that you have unexpectedly started menstruating during office hours, and there is no one who can provide you with a sanitary napkin. It may be my mistake if I am not carrying one, but isn’t the workplace responsible to help us during emergencies?
I also wonder why offices are so ignorant about the physical pain we have to go through during our periods. A period leave, I believe, is absolutely necessary for every workplace. I have personally faced this problem when I had to go to work despite being in a lot of pain. ‘Everyone goes through it, you can manage too’ is not as simple as it sounds.
Beyond the workplace, there is this taboo to deal with. This is mainly because people do not talk about it openly. Some temples near my house still have a board mentioning ‘menstruating women not allowed’ in front of them.
I believe that although there has been a lot of awareness being spread through social media and television, we still have a long way to go in order to let everybody accept that women menstruating is a normal biological function and that there is nothing called ‘impure blood’.
Offices, most importantly, should be sensitive towards the issue. Yes, we all know that this is something we go through every month and yes, we are used to dealing with it. But with a little support, with proper facilities and authorised leaves, our lives will be a lot easier.”
What does menstruation mean to you? Do you twitch a bit or sit uncomfortably at the mere mention? Want to share your experience? write to us at [email protected], remember to hashtag #MenstrualHygieneWeek
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