Now the company wants all of India to implement this policy.
A company in India that creates digital entertainment for the internet generation has decided to “walk the talk” by implementing menstrual leave for their 75+ female employees beginning this month. The Mumbai-based company, Culture Machine, announced the “First Day of Period Leave” to their employees and recorded some of their reactions to the news, all of which are positive and even surprised. The new policy allows the female employees to call in sick purely for the reason that it is the first day of their period, something that many of the women are excited about.
Culture Machine has several channels, one of which is called Blush and is aimed at the “modern, cosmopolitan, forward-thinking and decision-making woman.” The channel covers all sorts of topics that women, especially those in India, are interested in and served as a source of inspiration for the executives to pass the new policy.
“The first day is obviously a not-so-comfortable day for most. It’s time we face the reality. This is not an embarrassment. This is part of life,” said Devleena S. Majmuder, the President of Human Resources at Culture Machine. “Some of us have it really hard and to add to that there is travelling, work and stress. So we thought, if our channel could talk about bold female issues, why can’t we walk the talk and do something about this basic issue?”
When Majmuder went to the other executives at Culture Machine with this policy idea, they were onboard right away and it was implemented soon after. The employees decided to take it one step further, however; they have now started a petition on Change.org to encourage the ministers of human resource development and woman and child development to implement this policy nationwide.
Such a policy is a huge step forward for women, especially in India, where a menstruating woman is often still seen as “impure” and in some regions of India and Nepal, Chhaupadi is still practiced. Chhaupadi is a practice that forces menstruating women to sleep outside during their time of the month, which can be dangerous and even proved fatal for one 18-year-old that was recently bitten by a snake after being banished to a shed for being on her period. Proponents of the First Day of Period Leave argue that this policy could help erase the stigma surrounding periods and menstruating women.
Japan and Taiwan already have laws that allow this type of paid leave and Italy debated passing such a law earlier this year. If it passed, Italy would have become the first Western nation to enact the policy. Another India-based company, Gozoop, already has this policy, meaning Culture Machine is not the first but will hopefully not be the last.
The policy has been met with controversy, as many men say that it’s unfair that women get this additional leave once per month and women with all different backgrounds suggest that this policy could reinforce negative stereotypes about women on their period. Miriam Goi, a feminist writer at Vice Italy, said that this policy only affirms the notion that all women are weak while on their periods and need chocolate, Netflix, and other stereotypical vices that people believe all women turn to during that time of the month. Goi also said that this policy could lead to hiring or promotion discrimination because employers won’t want more employees that get more time off. Some employees have said that a better solution is to expand current sick leave by making it broader and perhaps even adding days so that women feel comfortable about using them for their period.
Whether you believe that this policy is good for women or not, it cannot be denied that it can lead to the destigmatization of menstruation and hopefully allow others to see that periods are important to talk about and even more important to normalize.