FTFNYT from 2017:

Recently Akanksha Seda got in her car at 10:30 a.m., as usual, and rode 45 minutes to her company’s office in Mumbai, India. A few hours later, she got her period and, she recalled, “the eighteen-wheeler truckload of cramps.”

Rather than popping painkillers and working through it, as she used to, Ms. Seda went to her supervisor and informed him she was taking the day off.

For many Indian women, that would be considered a bold move. Periods are a taboo subject, and discussing cramps with a man can be embarrassing for some, Ms. Seda said.

But at Culture Machine, the digital media company where she works, she was entitled to the day off. This month, the company put in place a “menstrual leave policy,” allowing women to take a paid day off during their period without dipping into sick days or vacation time.

It is one of a handful of private Indian companies to have started such policies in recent months. Menstrual leaves are recognized in few other countries, among them Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea and Zambia.

The move has set off fierce debate, not just in India but around the world. Experts say the spread of such policies — despite their best intentions — could actually deter women’s progress in the workplace.

The additional days off could be used to justify lower pay or increase hiring bias against women, critics say. Absences could push women out of decision-making roles and eliminate them from consideration for promotions.

And these policies may play into a decades-old prejudice that menstruation makes women unfit for work.


A 2012 study found that 20 percent of women experience periods painful enough to interfere with daily activities. While it is important to acknowledge their experiences, Ms. Martin said, a menstrual leave policy does more than that: It brands every woman who menstruates as ill.

It would be better, she said, to develop an overall leave policy for men and women to take time off for a host of reasons, including chronic medical conditions.


Agreed on that last bit. Ideally, people who need time off for pain, or for dialysis, or for regular visits to doctors of various kinds, or to get their kid somewhere, should be able to just take the time off and shouldn't need to use particular kinds of leave.

Having someone writhing around on the ladies' room couch because they're in horrible pain isn't helping anyone. They should be able to be home in bed without having to explain to prying co-workers why they are home.

I don't know how to implement such a "take leave if you need to" policy. And, sure, some horrible bosses would use a dedicated "menstrual cramp leave" policy to discriminate against hiring young women.

Dunno how one can square the circle, here. But the leave is clearly needed for more than a few women.

How's that for waffling?? ;-)