In a praise-worthy step towards asserting women’s rights, the Uttar Pradesh Mahila Shikshak Sangh recently demanded a monthly three-day period leave for all private and public sector teachers.
Speaking to SabrangIndia, President Sulochana Maurya said that members resolved to strengthen their campaign towards this goal after receiving encouraging responses on July 25, 2021 via Twitter.
“In rural areas, women have to travel hundreds of kilometres to teach in schools. During periods, the body hurts, the travel stress pains the body. Rather than us asking for this leave time and again, we request for the provision of a period leave. The Chief Minister and his government talks about Mission Shakti. So, then this demand is more than fair,” said Maurya.
In their letter to government and other officials, members pointed out that the Bihar government provides such a two-day leave to women for the last 30 years as a “special holiday.” Similarly, in Uttar Pradesh, women personnel avail the same in the form of sick leave.
In the private sector, companies like Gurgaon-based Wipro, media sector’s “Culture Machine” and Surat’s digital marketing companies like Zomato also provide such leaves to women employees, said State General Secretary Anushka.
“Apart from this, if seen globally, there are such provisions in Italy, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Russia, Australia too,” she said in a press release.
Further, Maurya said that no other organisation has given the topic its deserved attention. She asked, “Women shy away from voicing such issues before men. Forget state-level, there are hardly any women representatives at the district or village-level. Where are we to voice our grievances? The men don’t feel this is important but can they feel this pain?”
The President appealed to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to listen to this plea in a state where women are facing their work with due diligence. She condemned the manner in which such pressing issues are side-lined in the name of politics.
The recently formed organisation members resolved to unionise in an effort to focus on such gendered issues that have not been properly addressed since years together.
Aside from the need for period-leave for teachers, Maurya – headteacher of a primary school in Barabanki district – worried about the young girls who missed schools due to their first few years of menstruation. Members intend to talk about such adolescents in future campaigns.
For now, the organisation members prepare for the ‘e-Pathshala’ workshop planned on August 3 where Maurya will represent women teachers in the state. The Mahila Shikshak Sangh will hold their meeting after the event.
Menstruation campaign gaining strength
The organisation hopes that government officials will acknowledge the need for period leaves at a time when many women suffer mild to severe pain. Maurya pointed out that many doctors recommend rest to women when in reality working women continue with their daily work.
They sent their very first letter on July 6 to the Deputy Chief Minister, then the Education Minister and finally to Labour and Employment Department Cabinet Minister Swami Prasad Maurya. As many as five women teachers submitted the letter for menstruation benefits at his residence.
The Minister assured serious consideration towards this issue brought up by the women’s delegation.
State of women toilets in Uttar Pradesh?
Earlier, Maurya told Indian Express that the need for menstrual leave also arose from the unsanitary state of school toilets. According to the UDISE+ 2019-20 (Unified District Information System for Education Plus), 96.39 percent of the 2,50,080 schools with girl’s toilets had functioning facilities. This is more than the nationwide percentage of 93.23 functioning toilets.
However, as per the media report, women still have to go to the fields or use dirty washrooms to relieve themselves. Teachers said that the situation has improved somewhat due to state government-run projects like Kayakalp projects. Even so, regular cleaning remains a problem.
As such issues can result in various urinary tract infections for women, the teachers organisation has demanded a monthly three-day leave.
Image by UP Mahila Shikshak Sangh
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