Need Time Off Work For Period Pain? These Countries Offer ‘Menstrual Leave.’
Women in Spain now have the right to three days of menstrual leave a month — with the option of extending it to five days — if they experience painful periods. On Thursday, Spain became the first European country to entitle workers to paid menstrual leave as it passed numerous sexual and reproductive rights laws, including ones expanding abortion and transgender rights.
Period pain, or dysmenorrhea, is common; more than half of menstruating women experience pain for one or two days every month. For some, the pain is so severe that they are unable to perform normal activities for several days, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Menstrual leave legislation is contested, even among women. It is “becoming more common and contemporary proponents argue they can advance gender equality by normalizing menstruation,” said Marian Baird, a professor of gender and employment relations at the University of Sydney, who co-authored a recent paper on global menstrual leave legislation.
“However, opponents are worried menstrual leave will reinforce negative gender stereotypes and notions of biological determinism, leading to more employer discrimination against women,” she said in an email, adding that it is not easy to gauge the impact of these policies as yet.