Inspired by CUSAT, Kerala to provide menstrual leave to girl students in all state universities

The higher education minister hailed CUSAT for providing menstrual leave and announced extension of the provision in all universities.

BySreerag PS

Published Jan 17, 2023 | 1:07 PM Updated Jan 17, 2023 | 2:52 PM

Kerala menstrual leave

The Kerala government on Monday, 16 January, announced that it would grant menstrual leave to female students studying in all state universities under the Department of Higher Education.

Kerala Minister for Higher Education R Bindu made the announcement, taking a cue from the recent decision by the Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) to provide menstrual leave to its girl students.

Weeks before the decision by CUSAT authorities, Kottayam-based Mahatma Gandhi University granted maternity leave of 60 days to undergraduate and postgraduate students.

However, the decision by CUSAT led to demands by students of other state universities for a similar provision.

The minister was quick respond to the demands and extended the scheme to all universities under the department.

Demand for Menstrual leaves

Soon after CUSAT announced leave for female students during menstrual days, the demand gathered momentum. On Monday, the leadership of the Students Federation of India (SFI) met the higher education minister and made the submission in this regard.

Earlier, on 14 January, the students union of Kerala University of Health Sciences (KUHS) wrote to the vice-chancellor of the university seeking menstrual leave for female students.

The students, in their letter, said the majority of students in KUHS were women and they face physical and mental pressure during menstruation.

“Majority of the students under the Kerala University of Health Sciences are women. But in view of the physical and mental pressures they have to face during menstruation, there is no relaxation at the university level. Most of the girls who come to the classes during menstruation days are suffering from pain and mental stress and they come to classes only due to the fear of losing attendance.”

The students union also hailed the decision by the CUSAT administration and called it a “historic decision” and concluded their letter stating, “CUSAT will give two percent relaxation in attendance to female students. So understanding the difficulty faced by female students on menstrual days, it is requested to grant further relaxation in the matter of attendance.”

Also read: Transgenders seek paid leave for gender affirmation surgeries

Statement by the minister

On Monday, the higher education minister, through a Facebook post announced the decision to grant menstrual leaves for female students in all universities under her department.

“Taking into consideration the mental and physical difficulties faced by female students during menstruation, necessary steps will be taken to implement menstrual leave in all universities,” she said in a Facebook post.

Hailing the decision taken by Cochin University recently, she said it was for the first time in Kerala that an educational institution has given menstrual leave to students.

CUSAT had taken the decision following a representation made by the SFI-led students’ union of the university.

Considering the long-pending demand of the students, the varsity, on 11 January, sanctioned an additional two percent condonation of shortage of attendance to female students, in each semester.

The minister also praised the students’ union for taking up such an initiative and said “the menstrual leave model will be rolled out in universities across the state”.

“It is most gratifying to see the success of the student leadership and the university leadership working together to create a befitting continuation of the ongoing women empowerment activities initiated by the Department of Higher Education,” the minister said.

Bindu added that menstrual periods are days of an emotional roller coaster for many. “Let the girls relax during the difficult days of their menstrual cycle,” she said.

Also read: Gender-neutral uniforms in Kerala

Decision by CUSAT 

An autonomous university, CUSAT has over 8,000 students in various streams and more than half of them are girls.

“The university has sanctioned an additional two percentage points of condonation of shortage of attendance to female students to write the exams. This can be availed in each semester,” CUSAT Registrar Meera V told South First in an earlier interview.

She stated that this was a long-pending demand from the chairman of the students’ union.

The university recently issued an order signed by the joint registrar stating, “Having considered the requests for menstruation benefits to female students, the vice-chancellor has ordered to sanction an additional 2 percent of condonation of shortage of attendance to female students, in each semester, subject to reporting to the Academic Council.”

Meera said that the university authorities felt that both physical and mental problems related to menstruation were of genuine concern.

(With inputs from PTI)