In response to the controversy about mandated period leave for women, Union Minister Smriti Irani stated that such leave is “part of the law, but only in the context of medical leaves.”

Smriti Irani, the Minister of Women and Child Development, defended her “menstruation is not a handicap” comment, adding, “Why should a woman’s menstrual cycle be known to her employer?” Irani told the news agency ANI on Thursday that by making menstruation leave mandatory, she did not want women to endure discrimination and harassment at work.

“In order for you to mandate (menstrual leave across all segments) and make it legally implemented, people must report implementation,” she added. Consider a scenario in the private sector. When it comes time to execute it, your HR person needs to know, your accounting guy has to know…why should an employer be aware of a woman’s menstrual cycle?”

Smriti Irani on maternity leave

“Imagine if it’s a single woman…who refuses to take the leaves she’s supposed to be given. Imagine the harassment that women will have to endure…Consider a floor with 20,000 women… “We are creating new barriers for discriminating against women,” Smriti Irani explained.

Irani, on the other hand, stated that such leaves are “part of the law, but only in the context of medical leaves.” She went on to say, “Under the Occupational Safety and Health standard rules of 2020, a medical leave is already provided for” .

‘If you are in a lot of discomfort…’

Irani went on to react to critics who said that some women have to endure excruciating discomfort during their menstrual cycle. She went on to say, “If you look at challenge with regard to severe pain, it’s an indication of hormonal and chemical imbalance or (it has) a genetic inclination to it…which means you need a doctor immediately…you can’t self-medicate, specially when you are above the age of 25.”