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Why Did Smriti Irani Oppose Paid Period Leave? Minister Provides Clarity On Her Stand

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New Delhi: Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani sparked debate when she voiced her disagreement with the concept of providing paid leave for women during their periods in the Rajya Sabha last week. Her response was in reply to a question by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) member Manoj Kumar Jha.

“As a menstruating woman, menstruation and the menstruation cycle are not a handicap; it’s a natural part of women’s life journey…” Irani had said.

This sparked a debate among the public, with many criticizing the government for not understanding women’s struggles, while others supported the Union Minister.

Smriti Irani, clarified that she opposed the Menstrual Hygiene Policy because she did not want women to face discrimination and harassment at work as a result of it.

The Minister while speaking to news agency ANI said, “When I spoke in parliament, I spoke from my personal experience because I don’t want more and more women to be harassed.”

The minister said that the question that led to the statement was designed to be startling, provocative, or attention-grabbing.

“I could’ve said much more on the issue but I didn’t because the gentleman who asked the question never intended to find a solution for women,” she added.

Minister Manoj Kumar Jha posed the question as part of a list of questions for oral answers to be asked at a Rajya Sabha meeting on December 13.

According to Smriti Irani, the WCD minister was asked the following questions: “Will the Minister of Women and Child Development be pleased to state: a/ Whether govt is planning to roll out a Menstrual Hygiene Policy soon b/ If so, the details thereof c/ whether the policy contains provisions to promote and provide for menstrual hygiene among the LGBTQIA community.”

Irani highlighted question ‘C’ on the list, stating that the question about promoting or providing a menstrual hygiene plan for gay men was designed to be shocking, provocative, or attention-grabbing.

“The second issue is that Jha states in his communication that Bihar has a menstrual leave policy.” “He said this on the house floor,” she explained.

“If you look at my response, you’ll notice that I mention a policy that is available on the government website. The problem is that in his verbal intervention, he says Bihar has a policy as if Bihar is an overarching policy that applies to the private sector,” she explained.

“Bihar doesn’t have a private sector policy, the chair can pull him up for lying or insinuating. Bihar may have in 1992, a policy for paid leave for women in government not private,” she added.

“I clearly said that Menstrual Cycle is not a handicapped possession that women have. I did not call it a disability,” Irani stated.

 (With inputs from agencies)

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