Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani told the Rajya Sabha Wednesday that menstrual leave could lead to discrimination against women in the workforce.

She was responding to a query on whether the government is looking into providing a law for menstrual leave.

“Given today women are opting for more and more economic opportunities, I will just put my personal view on this, I am not the officiating ministry. We should not propose issues where women are in some way denied an equal opportunity just because somebody who does not menstruate has a particular viewpoint towards menstruation,” she said.

Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Manoj Kumar Jha had asked in a supplementary question whether the government had taken any measures for making compulsory provisions for employers to grant a certain number of leaves to female employees.

Irani added that as a menstruating woman herself, “menstruating and menstrual cycle is not a handicap”.

“It is a natural part of a woman’s life journey,” she said.

Jha said that Bihar under former Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav was the first state to have a menstrual leave policy.

He also asked whether the government is looking to regulate harmful chemicals used in sanitary napkins. While Irani said that the question involved manufacturing which is not the purview of the Women and Child Development Ministry, no such complaint has been recorded for sanitary pads provided by the government.

Suvidha Sanitary napkins are sold at Rs 1 under the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Pariyojana, an affordable medicine scheme. (IE)