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Need to End Constraints On The Road To Gender Equality


Recently, the Supreme Court of India directed a petitioner to approach the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development to frame a policy on menstrual pain leave.


GS-II: Social Justice (Women Empowerment, Governance and Government Policies, Issues Arising Out of Design & Implementation of Policies),

GS-I: Indian Society (Issues related to Women, Gender Inequality)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Need for a policy on Menstrual Leave
  2. What are the issues?
  3. Major achievements
  4. Way forward
  5. Conclusion

Need for a policy on Menstrual Leave:

  • A petition in the Supreme court sought the Court’s direction to States to frame rules for granting menstrual pain leave for students and working women.
  • The three judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud said the biological process must not become a “disincentive” for employers offering jobs to women.
  • In India, Kerala and Bihar have menstrual pain leave.
  • The food delivery app Zomato has also introduced it.
  • Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Spain and Zambia have this policy included in labour laws.
  • Also in India, there are other problems in need of addressing such as lack of sanitation facilities in school and at the workplace, especially in the informal sector.
  • According to World Bank data, between 2010 and 2020 the percentage of working women dropped from 26% to 19%.
  • Sometimes, girls have to drop out from school simply because there are no toilets

What are the issues?

  • The Supreme court had pointed out different dimensions to it, one being the apprehensions that these could entrench existing stigma and also result in furthering discrimination.
  • Many feminists have, decried the move, saying it will reinforce negative gender stereotypes.

Major achievements:

  • Women have fought hard to get to the present when.
  • Education and Job opportunities:
    • The higher education and work opportunities have significantly contributed to the upliftment of women.
    • This led to balancing work and home, though couple equity is still not a reality for many.
  • Reproductive Health:
    • The battle for rights related to reproductive health has been a hardfought one but women have been successful at persuading governments to initiate policy changes to improve their health and wellbeing.
  • Maternity leave:
    • In India, the Maternity Benefit Act that was enacted by Parliament in 1961 has been amended from time to time to give women better benefits.
    • For instance, the paid maternity leave has been extended from the earlier 12 weeks to 26 weeks.

Way forward:

  • There is a need encourage more women to join the workforce, it is imperative they have access to higher education and more opportunities.
  • Many countries are trying out four day work days for a quality life, while others are offering paternity leave so that parenting can be, rightly, equally shared.
  • This also ensures that recruiting women is not seen as a disadvantage.


  • Despite removing many barriers on the road to gender equality, many roadblocks still remain.
  • In a world that should strive to become a better place for all, it is the responsibility of the wider society and governments to ensure that no section is left behind.
  • All constraints on the road to gender equality and equity must be done away with.

March 2024