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Union Minister Smriti Irani rejects mandatory paid menstrual leave

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NEW DELHI, Dec 14: Union Women and Child Development (WCD) Minister Smriti Irani on Wednesday said that the menstruation should not be considered a “handicap” and does not warrant a specific policy for “paid leave.”

Speaking in the Rajya Sabha in response to a question on menstrual hygiene policy posed by RJD member Manoj Kumar Jha, Irani emphasized that menstruation is a natural part of women’s life journey and should not lead to denial of equal opportunities.

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“As a menstruating woman, menstruation and the menstruation cycle is not a handicap, it’s a natural part of women’s life journey…We should not propose issues where women are denied equal opportunities just because somebody who does not menstruate has a particular viewpoint towards menstruation,” she said in her written response.

Irani reiterated that there is no government proposal to make paid menstrual leave mandatory for all workplaces.

In October, the government released a draft Menstrual Hygiene Policy advocating for inclusive workplaces, recognizing diverse needs, and providing flexible arrangements like work from home or support leave during menstruation. Irani highlighted the availability of affordable sanitary napkins through Jan Aushadi Kendra, addressing concerns about potential risks associated with their production.

Raising concerns about sanitary napkin substances, Jha inquired about regulations, prompting Irani to emphasize the availability and affordability of these products through Jan Aushadi Kendra, with no reported complaints.

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