Government school teachers in Uttar Pradesh are. Female teachers in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh have started a campaign . Many teachers long distances to areas not well connected by public transport. Filthy school toilets – generally unusable – add to their misery during periods.
The campaign wassteam. It’s led by the Mahila Shikshak Sangh, an association of female teachers in the state representing more than 200,000 female teaching staff working in the 168,000 government-run schools. Sulochana Maurya, principal of a and president of the association, says more than 70% of female staff are posted in villages.
“It’s well known that menstruating public transport, they have to hitch a ride, sometimes travel the last mile on tractors or bullock carts,” she added.rest as many experience physical discomfort and emotional agony, and traveling 30-60kms to schools in remote rural areas can be especially taxing,” Ms. Maurya told the BBC. “In some areas, unserviced by regular
A teacher – she does not want to be named – at a rural school about 200km (124 miles) from the state capital, Lucknow, says teachers use school toilets only in an emergency. “There are six toilets in our school, but most days, they are dirty. They are not cleaned daily, and with hundreds of students using them, they are unusable,” she says.
“For the local teachers, it’s still okay, they can go home if they need to use the bathroom, but for those who come from other villages or distant places, it’s aMs. Maurya to school when they get their periods. “At the moment, we are fighting for leave for teachers. Later, it can be extended to students, too,” she says.
More than 200,000 female teaching staff work in the 168,000 government-run schools in food delivery app Zomato, have announced period leave for their female employees.. The concept of period leave is not new in India. Over the past few years, several private companies, such as digital entertainment firm Culture Machine, Tata Steel, and
In the neighboring state of Bihar, femalehave been able to take “two days of special leave every month for biological reasons” for the past 30 years. “So why can’t do it too?” asks Ms. Maurya. “We are all citizens of one country, so why have different rules for different states?”
Ms. Maurya and association members have submitted their demand to the state women’s commission, held a day-long Twitter campaign, and are lobbying ministers, legislators, and people’s representatives. But a government spokesman told the BBC that they are yet to consider the demand.
The teachers’ fight has again spotlighted whether period leave helps. It’s a topic with long-polarised opinions. It has led to a passionateabout whether it’s a progressive move or encourages stereotypes that women are weaker and unfit for the workspace.
Many women employers would use it as an excuse to hire fewer women.periods. Still, others argue that it could be detrimental to women themselves as
Tanya Mahajan of the Menstrual Health Alliance of India (MHAI), a network of NGOs that create awareness about menstruation, says period leave makes it easier, especially for women who have painful periods, as they can take a day off. But in the workspace, she says, many women hesitate to ask for period leave, especially if the boss is male.
Many Indian women cannot access sanitary pads or clean public toilets. That’s because periods have long been taboo in India, and menstruating women are considered impure and face widespread discrimination.
Excluded from social and religious events, they areinto temples and shrines and kept out of kitchens. In some tribal communities in western India, they are banished to a period hut on the outskirts of the village on the edge of the forest.
Urban, educated women increasingly challenge these regressive ideas, but conversations around menstruation are still primarily held in hushed tones., 23 million girls drop out of school annually as they hit puberty because of a lack of menstrual hygiene facilities, including access to sanitary napkins or clean toilets at school.
Ms. Mahajan says giving period leave is, at best, a half measure. What is essential is to have open conversations about menstruation. “But are these conversations happening? Are ourproviding better wash facilities for women? Changing policy doesn’t make much difference unless it’s followed up with action.”