Just acknowledge that infertility exists and is a real problem by having provision for fertility leave. This one small step can go a long way in removing the shame, embarrassment and social taboo around the issue of infertility.
When the Mumbai based organization, Culture Machine brought in a new leave policy to allow women employees to take the first day of their period off, social media almost exploded with comments, arguments, counter-arguments, a multitude of opinions favoring and opposing period leave. While on the face of it, it looks like a brilliant initiative, if you delve deep into it, you can actually see cracks.
- All women don’t suffer from period pain on Day 1. For some like me it’s not the first day but the second day is terrible.
- What about daily wage workers, athletes, astronauts, pilots, combat officers, homemakers—they make up a huge percentage of the population too. Can they afford a day off and that too every month?
- Will women be allowed in important decision making positions if they are to avail of this leave policy? What if an important decision has to be taken on the first day of the period? Will it wait?
These are some of the glaring issues that have been raised by women across the country through social networking sites. As for me, I think it’s a great idea but one that can be grossly misused by many women.
Give Fertility Leave | Acknowledge Infertility Exists
But right now, I am thinking about bigger things. What about the pain at a bigger level? What about women who go for Infertility treatments such as IVF? The pain that an IVF can bring in is much higher and nowhere in comparison to period cramping. And miscarriage? Have you ever asked a woman who’s suffered a miscarriage on how it feels, physically and emotionally?
Well…this is not meant to belittle women with period pain. Those suffering endometriosis can have a nightmare every cycle. But while period pain is not universal, women who undergo Infertility treatments, IVF, miscarriage suffer the kind of pain that cannot be described in words. And every woman who goes through any of this suffers. Period.
My Imaginary Sick Aunt, My Saviour
Not just that, most women who go for fertility treatment, including myself hide it from colleagues. Because there is an element of shame attached to it. Every month when I had to go for scans and HCG injections, I had to take a different van from office and I had to fake an excuse to take it. In fact, I had brought in an imaginary aunt who is unwell who I have to visit periodically to check on. I used to feel terrible but I had no choice. If I would say that I a opting the van for a visit to a clinic, I would be denied access to it every month. At this point when women and men across India are arguing at whether we need a period leave, I think that can perhaps wait. What is more pressing is to understand and empathize with women with fertility issues and grant them some respite in the form of a day off to handle the emotional and physical pain that it brings in.
In Malta, Italy a couple is sanctioned 100 days of leave during IVF treatment. So, there are countries who are giving fertility leave. It is not just a thought any longer. Of course, convincing and implementation with Indian government takes ages, till then let your sick aunt be your saviour!
#FertilityLeave | Remove The Shame Around Infertility
Just keeping an option of fertility leave on the books will go in a long way to remove the shame and embarrassment around the issue of infertility. Next time when a woman has to go for IVF procedure she will not need to call upon the elusive sick aunt but just submit the medical reports and take leave stress- free, guilt-free.
We are living at a time when women’s issues are no more hushed up or shoved. More and more women are coming out of the closet and are opening up about issues that should be known. Research has shown that infertility has been on a 20 to 30 percent rise in the past five years in India alone. Its high time we #AcknowledgeInfertility and bring it to the fore. Are you ready?
What do you think about #FertilityLeave? Share your thoughts in the comment below and let’s atleast begin a thought process.