How many days a month have you missed work or requested a day off for stomach pains and cramps because of menstruation? This is the question one of India’s largest food-delivery firms, Zomato, put to its 4,000 employees, 35 percent of whom are women, in announcing a new paid period leave policy for employees on Saturday.
The policy, not common among large global companies, allows up to 10 days of period leave a year and applies to transgender employees. The policy is considered a bold move in tackling an age-old taboo in India, where 71 percent of young women remain unaware of menstruation until their first cycle, according to UNICEF.
For decades, menstruation has been a barrier to women’s equality. The monthly menstruation cycle can cause a variety of painful symptoms that continue with each cycle until menopause, typically occurring between the ages of 45 and 55.
Zomato isn’t the first Indian company to introduce period leave. The State of Bihar has had two extra days of casual leave for government employees to take time off for periods since 1992. In 2017, the digital media company Culture Machine, which has offices in five cities in India, put in place a menstrual leave policy independent of vacation and sick days. There are also forms of menstrual leave policies in Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Zambia.
Now the question is: which companies will follow suit?