Just last year, Zomato started a huge debate when it allowed its female and transgender employees to take up to 10 days of paid menstrual leaves per year, as an effort to fight against the taboo around menstruation.
In the sea of problems facing the world, menstrual hygiene issues often get brushed under the carpet. Spreading knowledge of proper menstrual hygiene practices and making creative solutions available to women from all walks of life are two things that can help relieve menstrual problems.
On World Menstrual Hygiene Day 2021, here is a list of four countries that are taking initiatives to address the subject of menstrual hygiene with policies and advocacy.
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Scotland, in November 2020, became the first country in the world to provide free and universal access to menstrual products —including tampons and pads — in public facilities to everyone.
Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) unanimously approved the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill on November 24, 2020.
Local governments now have a legal obligation to ensure that free tampons and sanitary pads are supplied to "anyone who needs them."
The tampon tax, a 5% rate of value-added tax (VAT) on menstruation products, was recently eliminated in the United Kingdom, indicating that VAT on period products is no longer relevant.
2. New Zealand
As part of efforts to eliminate period poverty in New Zealand, all schools will begin offering free period products from June.
The move comes after a successful trial programme in 15 schools last year.
"Young people should not lose out on their education because of something that is a common part of life for half the population," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
Ardern stated that one in every twelve young people in New Zealand misses school due to period poverty, which occurs when low-income people are unable to purchase or get appropriate period supplies.
She stated on Thursday that one way the government might address poverty, promote school attendance, and "make a positive impact on children's wellbeing" was to provide free period products.
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3. South Korea
Female employees in South Korea are entitled to menstruation leave and are guaranteed additional compensation if they do not use the menstrual leave that they are entitled to. In South Korea, the approach is rarely applied and is very divisive.
Despite Korea's overwhelmingly male-dominated work culture, the policy has recently come under scrutiny from men's rights activists who regard it as discriminatory.
Following months of agitation by campaigners, India abolished its 12% tax on all sanitary items in July 2018.
The declaration came a year after the government imposed the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on all products, including the 12% tax on feminine hygiene items.
Campaigners contended that the tax would make sanitary pads even more pricey in a country where four out of every five women and girls currently lack access to them.
Some nations have policies in place that provide unpaid menstruation leave or other benefits. Employers in Japan, for example, are required to give women days off for difficult menstruation but are not required to compensate workers for their absences.