Women in Spain to be offered three-day menstrual leave each month

·2-min read
Photo credit: LaylaBird - Getty Images
Photo credit: LaylaBird - Getty Images

Putting on your bravest face and your most unflappable professional demeanour when your lower abdomen is a churning hotbed of pain on day 1 of your cycle: it's far from optimal.

But for a long time, it's been as something that women in the workforce have had to simply grin, bear, drop a double dose of paracetamol - and suck up.

Sure there's been talk of menstrual leave - you can probably recall debates on the issue in newspaper supplements and breakfast news shows - but as for this idea becoming actual, companies-have-to-abide-by policy? It's seemed a long way off in the western world. (Other countries already grant menstrual leave including Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Zambia.)

Until now. In a European first, women who suffer from severe period pain are to be allowed up to three days off work in month, under planned reforms that are due to be signed off by Spain's government next week.

If passed, the draft reform would make Spain the first Western country to give women the legal right to menstrual leave, meaning they would be guaranteed time off when they are on their periods.

The Spanish Gynaecology and Obstetrics Society state that approximately one third of women suffer from severe pain - AKA dysmenorrhea. Symptoms of dysmenorrhea also include debilitating headaches, diarrhoea and fever.

Angela Rodriguez, the secretary of state for equality, explained the thought process behind the draft reforms to the El Periodico newspaper.

'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,' she explained.

'It is important to clarify what a painful period is,' she continued. 'We are not talking about a slight discomfort, but about serious symptoms such as diarrhoea, severe headaches, fever.'

The proposed plans sit alongside other pieces of progressive female health legislation: including plans to remove the VAT from sanitary pads and tampons in supermarkets (AKA the 'tampon tax', something that's already been actioned in the UK) as these sanitary supplies being provided free of charge to women in marginalised social circumstances.

The Spanish government also plans to make another aspect of women's healthcare - abortion - more accessible. Draft policies include: removing the requirement for 16 and 17-year-olds seeking an abortion to ask parental permission and guaranteeing access to termination in public hospitals.

Interesting developments. Would you welcome menstrual leave being introduced in the UK?

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