Food delivery giant Zomato announced on Saturday that all female employees in the company are eligible for up to 10 days of “period leave” per year. This is a part of the campaign to counter the prevalent stigma around menstruation. In a statement released on Saturday, Zomato founder and CEO Deepinder Goyal said women and transgender people will be entitled to one day of period leave for each menstrual cycle.
“There shouldn’t be any shame or stigma attached to applying for a period leave,” Deepinder Goyal said in an email to staff that was publicly released on Saturday. “At Zomato, we want to foster a culture of trust, truth, and acceptance. There shouldn’t be any shame or stigma attached to applying for a period leave. You should feel free to tell people on internal groups, or emails that you are on your period leave for the day.”
He urged that anyone who experiences “unnecessary harassment” or “distasteful comments” for taking period leaves must approach their Sexual Harassment Cell for support. He also addressed the company’s male colleagues and said that it “shouldn’t be uncomfortable for us.” Founded in 2008, Gurugram-based Zomato is one of India’s best-known companies, with more than 5,000 employees.
Apart from delivering us great food throughout the pandemic, the company is now delivering a very powerful message of breaking societal stigmas. The inclusion of transgender women in this decision is also to be much-admired. Till now, Zomato is the most high-profile organization in India to institute this policy, a country where the topic of menstruation is still considered taboo to many.
Millions of women and girls in the country still face discrimination and health complications due to a lack of awareness surrounding menstruation. It is such a taboo subject in India that women in many households aren’t even allowed to cook or touch anyone during their period. This is because they are considered impure and dirty. This level of social shame becomes a serious hindrance for women from talking openly about menstrual hygiene. As a result, many girls aren’t taught about safe and hygienic practices.
Some in the country have tried to counter that stigma. For example, Bihar now allows women to take two days of leave each month because of “biological reasons.” However, no legislation has been passed from the Centre to change the nationwide rules around period leave.