Video Editor: Sandeep Suman
There was non-stop discussion and debate about period leave on social media, on zoom calls and even webinars, after Zomato announced 10 days of the same for its women employees.
But, a little known fact is that the women of Bihar fought and won this very period leave battle, thirty years ago.
In 1992, after months of struggle, women government employees were granted two days period leave per month, up to the age of 45.
The Quint caught up with women who were at the forefront of this struggle.
“This did not come so easy for us. We had to protest for a long time. Protests continued for close to 2-3 months. We snatched it from the jaws of Lalu Prasad... someone who was not so much in favour of women’s rights,” said Bharti S Kumar, former head of the History Department at Patna University.
The women were actually seeking three days but were instead granted two days of leave.
Speaking to The Quint, General Secretary of All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA) Meena Tiwari said that women had to be convinced that if we "wanted rights, we had to fight the battle too.”
“During these protests, women were often told by the men of the house that they don’t need to go for the protests and that the men would protest on their behalf so that women could look after the house. Then, we had to convince these women in our meetings that if they wanted their demands to be met, they would have to fight the battle too. You can’t win battles without fighting them. So, if you want your demands to be met, you have to fight for it. So, you have to equally participate in the protests.”Meena Tiwari
While the women continued to protest on the sidelines of the Mandal Commission and Ram Mandir issues, the historic fight of these women failed to grab eyeballs.
“Around 1992, the Mandal Commission and Ram Mandir issues made headlines. Our issues were not circulated enough. They were circulated in certain sections that were interested. I doubt whether women in all departments are still getting period leaves. We still have to remind everyone to circulate and implement this in all departments. We are still fighting to implement this,” said Kumar.
While government employees have been granted period leave, Bihari women continue to fight stigma related to periods every day.
“If you go to the villages, our political leaders say, ‘We’ll make a well here, we’ll give cycles to the girls.’ They should also talk about menstruation. It’s not a taboo.Girls in villages should be provided sanitary pads.”Fatima Ariba, Admin, Work Studio, Coworking
“The mentality of the people here hasn’t changed yet. If parties focus on this during elections, it will negatively impact them and they won’t get votes,” added Jyotsna Singh, HR Executive, Aadhaar Solutions.
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