Kicking the Menstruation Stigma right to the Curb: Zomato, Take a Bow

We all would have seen our female friends or colleagues suffering from cramps periodically and covering it under the name of “Not feeling well” with a very uncomfortable tone, but still giving all their efforts in keeping up and bringing their A-Game. This has been the reality of the so mockingly (Read Insensitively) called “that time of the month”. During a time when we go on and on about promoting diversity and being a more inclusive society, we have never seen any corporate companies trying to make their life easier. Don’t get me wrong, many companies have installed sanitary pad machines and have dedicated rooms for them to take rest, but Zomato has come up with a masterstroke, yet again.

Zomato’s Founder & CEO, Deepinder Goyal announced that all women employees (including transgender people) at Zomato can avail up to 10 days of period leaves in a year. This beautiful gesture comes as an effort to foster a culture of trust, truth and acceptance.

The mail is crafted so diligently addressing every other concern that might come up including the reason why only 10 days are granted when most women generally have close to 14 menstrual cycles a year, where they’ve factored in the probability of periods occurring during a weekend in finalising the number.

But, what surprised me the most was the way in which they beautifully addressed the stigma associated with it.

Zomato understands that men and women are born with different biological realities. It is our job to make sure that we make room for our biological needs, while not lowering the bar for the quality of our work and the impact that we create

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

-Deepinder Goyal, Zomato Founder & CEO

Menstrual Stigma is real and believe it or not, this holds extremely valid across any country. As per a research in US in 2018, it revealed that 42% of women have experienced period-shaming by men. Let’s not even talk about the case in India, where there are also infinite regressive anecdotes related to even religious rituals, just because of the notion that menstruation makes them “unclean”. Sanitary pads are still wrapped in black bags so that it is not visible. Back during my UG days, I remember my close friends belonging to the opposite sex using a particular code name to address periods within our friends circle. Later, somewhere I read that the usage of slang words is extremely common all over the world, with one particular survey by The International Women’s Health Coalition identifying more than 5000 different slang terms and euphemisms for the word “Period”. While it made them more comfortable, many also believe that it is deepening the taboo associated with it.

All it takes is one person & one drive, to bring about a change and that is exactly what Zomato has done here, challenging the entire social outlook. Surprisingly, this is not the first time they’ve taken a bold decision.

Last year, Zomato had also set a new benchmark for paternity leave in India through the announcement of 26 weeks paid leave for new fathers, with the policies being drafted as same as that of the maternal leave policy. This was implemented citing the myopic view of primary caregiving alienating one half of the workforce, which also creates circumstances that lead to fewer female leaders within organisations, the community and the nation.

Zomato being the Harbingers of Change

In an era of strong dialogues on the empowerment of women and smashing patriarchy, it is high time to get rid of the regressive mindset once and for all. We can hope that this policy would serve as the starting point for all corporates to mirror the same in developing a more stronger culture of empathy & openness.

This is what we can truly call a Visionary Leadership.

Take a bow, Zomato, more power to you.

You can read the entire blog release from Zomato here: https://www.zomato.com/blog/period-leaves

What’s your take on this? Share your analysis in the comments below.

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