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Menstruation and Maternity are two natural bodily processes faced by a woman. Menstruation is the


Menstruation and Maternity are two natural bodily processes faced by a woman. Menstruation is the process where a woman faces vaginal bleeding that occurs once every month. Menstruation comes with the pain called “Dysmenorrhea” commonly on the first day of Menses. Around 80% of women experience period pain at some point in their lifetime. Dysmenorrhea lasts for one to two days. And on the other side Maternity is the state of being a mother or the period during pregnancy and shortly after childbirth. During pregnancy, some common problems faced by a woman are morning sickness, headache, backache, bladder and bowel changes, indigestion, heartburn, leg cramps and swelling, vaginal thrush, and discharge. Both Menstruation and Maternity have an impact on any woman’s life, health, and well-being. Menstrual leave is paid or unpaid leave for women during the period of menstruation and on the other side Maternity leave is the break from work during the maternity period.


Under Indian Constitution Article 42[1] directs the state to make laws regarding maternity relief. In India, maternity leave is governed under Maternity Benefits Act, of 1961[2] under which a working woman can seek maternity leave for up to 26 weeks, and the woman also be paid during this time. Some other laws that talk about Maternity leave such as The Maternity Benefit Mines and Circus Rules 1963, Mines Act 1952, Factory Act 1948, Maternity Leave and Incentive Scheme 2018, and Employer State Insurance Act 1948. Menstrual leave is not legally recognized in India, in 2017 Menstrual Benefit bill[3] has been introduced in Parliament, which proposes two days of menstrual leave every month. However, the Menstrual Benefit bill is yet to see the light of day. Later in 2022 the bill was again introduced in Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly but was not considered. A plea has been filed by Advocate Shailendra Mani Tripathi in the Supreme Court of India regarding menstrual leave for female students and working women but on February 24 Supreme Court rejected the plea by saying that the issue has a policy dimension which is why the onus is on Central Government to make such a policy a reality[4]. Menstrual Leave policy has no existence at the Central level but Bihar is the first state which introduced the Menstrual Leave Policy followed by Kerala. When the Bihar government was headed by Lalu Prasad Yadav, he introduced its menstrual leave policy in 1992[5] which allows women employees two days of paid menstrual leave every month. And on January 19, 2023, the Kerala government issued an order granting menstrual leave for students in all states that run higher education.


Maternity Leave supports a woman physically and emotionally and of course financially. It enables a woman to bond with the newborn baby. It also impacts stress levels. Pregnancy brings several changes in a woman’s body physically and mentally, and it takes months to stabilize the same. A study in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy reveals that women with paid maternity leave have better health than women with no paid maternity leave. A review of Harvard Review of Psychiatry in 2020 reveals that women with paid maternity leave face low infant mortality[6] and in 2018 study in Maternal and Child Health Journal found similar results that women who took paid maternity leave experienced a 47% decrease in the odds of re-hospitalization for their infants and a 51% decrease in the odds of being re-hospitalized themselves at 21 months postpartum[7].

According to the same 2020 review of the Harvard Review of Psychology, paid maternity leave is associated with a decrease in postpartum maternal depression. Meanwhile, a 2012 study in the Journal of Mental Health Policies and Economics found women having fewer than 12 weeks of maternity leave and fewer than eight weeks of paid maternity leave leads to an increase in depressive symptoms. And the study by the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law of 2014 reveals that longer maternity leave is associated with decreased depressive symptoms.

Menstrual pain has a significant impact on women’s academic and employment participation. Menstrual Leave, Menstruation is already a taboo in India. Women still hesitate to talk openly about menses in India, in this situation seeking menstrual leave is also a problem for them. According to a study, the pain experienced by women called Dysmenorrhea affects their power of concentration leading to poor performance and productivity, experiencing stress, changes in hormonal levels, and bad digestion. There is also the possibility of PCOS or PCOD, an ovarian cyst that is responsible for lowering the fertility rate of women. According to a survey, 30% to 50% of young women miss school or work at least once per cycle, and women who experience adverse menstrual symptoms have a significantly lower quality of life. So, Menstruation leads to disruption of the usual routine of women. Doctors also claim that dysmenorrhoea can be as painful as heart attacks. Menses leave will increase efficiency, Women can also access hygiene during menstruation, and it will also lead to support women in the workplace which promotes a more inclusive and equitable workplace culture. And finally, women did not have to compromise their comfort, well-being, or productivity at work.


Menstrual Leave and Maternity Leave both are linked with the reproductive health of a woman. During Menstruation and Pregnancy, a woman faces several changes in her body with lots of discomforts which is responsible for the loss of concentration leading to poor performance and productivity. Maternity Leave has been in existence for several decades but Menstrual Leave is a relatively new concept. Menstrual Leave does not have any specific law in India. However, there are two states in India, Bihar, and Kerala which have specific laws for Menstrual Leave for women but the provisions are much different in these states. However, some companies have voluntarily introduced Menstrual Leave policies. From the above discussion, we can conclude that Menstrual Leave has no specific law, it is governed under voluntary policies by states and some companies.

On the other hand, Maternity Leave is governed by Maternity Benefit Act, of 1961 under which a woman can seek leave from 12 to 26 weeks, a woman who worked in an establishment for 80 days in 12 months, is also entitled to the payment of average daily wage for the period of her actual absence, provided with security of no termination during her leave, she can also opt for work from home if the nature of her work allows it. Maternity Benefit Act is the comprehensive legal framework of Maternity Leave.


In conclusion, Menstrual and Maternity are two natural bodily processes faced by women that have a significant impact on their health, well-being, and productivity. Maternity Leave is well established in India, but Menstrual Leave is still finding its way from being a Bill to Act, except in two states. Menstrual Leave can help women with dysmenorrhea to cope with pain and support them during menstruation. Maternity leave on the other hand has numerous health benefits for the mother and infant and can improve maternal health. Both Menstrual Leave and Maternity Leave policies need to be established by the government and companies to support women’s reproductive health and promote gender equality in the workplace. Maternity leave is legally recognized in India so we are halfway there to reaching the goal of taking care of women’s reproductive health.

Author(s) Name: Rupali Goel (Allahabad University)


[1] The Constitution of India, 1950, Article 21 – Protection of life and personal liberty No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty