Zomato introduces 'period leave' for employees, the first major company to do so in India

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Indian food delivery company Zomato recently said it would give female employees up to 10 days of "period leave" per year, as part of an effort to combat what it said was a stigma around the issue. 

Zomato is by far the most high profile organisation to institute period leave in India, which is a place where menstruation is still taboo to many people, reports Reuters correspondent Alasdair Pal. 

READ MORE: Japanese women asked to wear badges to work when they are on their period - here's why

Millions of women and girls in India, particularly in rural and low-income areas, still face discrimination and health issues due to a lack of awareness surrounding menstruation.

The Gurugram-based Zomato is one of India's best-known companies, with more than 5 000 employees. In an email to staff, chief executive, Deepinder Goyal said, "There shouldn't be any shame or stigma attached to applying for a period leave," adding, "You should feel free to tell people on internal groups, or emails that you are on your period leave for the day."

In India, menstruation is rarely discussed openly. This can leave people who menstruate subject to social exclusion due to age-old social beliefs. Menstruating women are often seen as unclean and impure. During their periods, they may not be allowed to go to the temple or prepare and touch certain food.

READ MORE: Instagram sensation and MD, Dr Khanya shares how you can make it through 'that time of the month' as comfortably as possible 

In 2017, Mumbai-based digital media company Culture Machine became one of the first employers to offer menstrual leave to its female staff. It also called on authorities to legislate to give all working women the option of taking the first day of their period off work. 

In 2018, India's Supreme Court overturned a decades-long ban on women of menstrual age entering the Sabarimala temple in the southern state of Kerala, leading to a nationwide debate about women's rights.

Compiled by Phelokazi Mbude

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