Spain is all set to become the first Western country to offer menstrual leaves to working women every month. As per a reform plan set to be approved next week, women who suffer severe pain during their periods will be granted three days off of work each month.
According to The Telegraph, the draft reform will make Spain the first country in Europe, and the whole West, to offer menstrual leaves as currently only a handful of countries, icluding Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, and Zambia, are letting women take guaranteed days off for period pains.
The Spanish Gynaecology and Obstetrics Society reported that nearly one-third of women who menstruate suffer from severe pain known as dysmenorrhoea. The symptoms of dysmenorrhoea include acute abdominal pain, headaches, diarrhoea, and fever.
“If someone has an illness with such symptoms a temporary disability is granted, so the same should happen with menstruation—allowing a woman with a very painful period to stay at home,” said Angela Rodriguez, the secretary of state for equality.
Not only this, the reform plan also includes other measures to improve menstrual health in the country. It will now be mandatory for schools to provide sanitary pads for girls who need them. Women who cannot afford sanitary pads or tampons will be provided with them, free of charge, and these menstrual health products will have the VAT waived off from their sale prices in supermarkets.
The topic has been a point of contention amongst women’s right groups across the world, with some claiming that this is a big step towards making workplaces inclusive and treating menstrual health with the same gravity as other health-related issues. The others belive that a concept like menstrual leaves would hinder advancement of women in the workplace as they would always be seen as the weaker sex who requires days off work in order to cope with menstrual pain.
Which side of the argument do you fall on?
UPDATE on 22/2/2023: Spain became the first European country to approve menstrual leave for women suffering from incapacitating periods. Women in Spain can now take three-to-five days of leave if they’re uncomfortable during their periods.
Meanwhile closer to home, the Supreme Court is supposed to hear a plea regarding menstrual leaves for women across India on February 24, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens. Stay tuned for updates!