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Meet the Kerala student leader who pushed for 'menstrual leave' in universities

Women students now require only 73% attendance to appear for semester exams
Meet the Kerala student leader who pushed for 'menstrual leave' in universities
Meet the Kerala student leader who pushed for 'menstrual leave' in universities

ITDC INDIA EPRESS/ ITDC NEWS On January 19, the higher education department of Kerala issued an order granting menstrual leave to students in all higher education institutions. The department was replicating a model created by the Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT).

On January 11, CUSAT became the first university in the country to grant menstrual leave to students. Namita George, the chairperson of the CUSAT students' union, played a crucial role in the implementation of this progressive move in the state.

A student activist from the Students Federation of India, the union under the leadership of George came to power at CUSAT less than a month ago. And, the union’s first petition to the university was to allow menstrual leave in the university. “I never expected to be a part of the union and become the chairperson. But this was something I wished to do first if I ever got a chance,” said George, who is currently a fifth-year law student at the School of Legal Studies, CUSAT. “Beyond politics, this petition and the issue of menstrual leave was something very personal and emotional for me and many of my friends.”

The union raised the request for menstrual leave to the university on January 3. And, within a week, the university took clear action on it. “We did not expect such a speedy and positive response from the university,” said George. “And, now, this is being replicated in the entire state. We did not expect that our petition would prompt such sudden action. We are thrilled. CUSAT authorities were very supportive when we gave the petition. Our registrar is also a woman. So, there was no trouble in making her understand the troubles faced by a woman during her menstrual days. The pro-vice chancellor also welcomed our petition.”

The original request raised by George and her union was for granting two days off every month for students and staff. The university authorities explained the practical difficulty of implementing such a norm. Instead, the authorities agreed that girls students can claim an additional condonation of two per cent attendance each semester. This means, women students now require only 73 per cent attendance to appear for semester exams without any penalty.

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