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World Menopause Awareness Day: How Workplaces Can Provide Practical Support To Menopausal Employees

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When we talk about all the physical changes a woman goes through in her lifetime, we often tend to allocate lesser importance to the menopause phase of her life. And I believe that is because we don’t openly talk about menstruation (at least in India) itself, then how are we going to talk about the time when it ends? Menopause is a time that marks the end of the menstruation cycle in a woman. And unlike a menstruation cycle which takes place in a specific time period every month, menopause is not time bounded and is different from woman to woman. So today, on World Menopause Awareness Day, I want to take the time and talk about how menopause affects a woman and what practical support can be given to them, especially for working women. 

Most of the women working in firms, companies, organizations, etc. on a higher, managerial or executive level tend to lie in the 40 – 50+ age group. This is the age where most women start experiencing menopause. It only makes sense that employers start taking it seriously and include practical menopause policies in their workspace.

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In fact, a UK-based Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) even emphasized on the fact that firms across industries should create a more inclusive and supportive workplace culture so that those women going through menopause feel comfortable asking for support from the firm. One of the occupational health specialists at IOSH, Dr. Karen Mitchell spoke up about menopause and stated how it had physical, mental, and emotional effects on women dealing with it. She even shared that this in turn also affected the way they would cope with work.

Shedding more light on the physical effects of menopause on women, the theme for World Menopause Awareness Day 2021 is bone health. According to studies, in menopausal women, the estrogen (a hormone that protects bones) level drops drastically and that can cause bone loss in women. Not only that, but these women also go through hot flashes, weight gain, erratic mood swings, and a host of other symptoms. 

Also Read: Salma Hayek Talks About Menopause And How It’s Unfair To Put An Expiration Date On Women

In fact, the Netflix show Bombay Begums also throws light on menopausal women when they show Pooja Bhatt’s character, Rani, who is dealing with menopause, walking out of a board meeting to splash some water on her face and dry her armpits as she is dealing with hot flashes. Her male coworker, and fellow competitor notices this and tries to undermine her positions as CEO by indicating that she isn’t up to her usual standards of work because of her menopause which could impair her judgement. And Rani tries to dodge it. This is exactly the kind of attitude in coworkers and workplaces that needs to be discouraged.

When talking about the emotional and mental changes that women go through during menopause, the symptoms include irritability, low self-confidence, anxiety, difficulty in concentrating, mood swings, lack of ability to cope with work, etc. And all these symptoms are due to the fact that there are constant changes in hormone levels in a woman’s body.

This and many other changes that a woman who is going through menopause faces call for a practical support rather than a document policy. Let’s face it, excluding or removing menopausal women from companies, firms, organizations, etc. is detrimental to the economy of the country and to the society. So instead of removing them or keeping them on the sidelines, the focus should be more on coming up with solutions that are realistic, inclusive, practical, and comfortable for menopausal women.

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