Spain is set to become the first western country to guarantee three days off work per month for women with severe menstrual cramps.
The draft reform follows the Secretary of State for Equality and Gender-Based Violence Angela Rodríguez announced in March that new measures would be taken to support menstrual and reproductive health, including sick leave for women recovering from an abortion.
The reform plan, which aims to close the gender gap, is due to be approved by the Spanish government on Tuesday. “If someone has an illness with such symptoms, a temporary disability is granted, so the same should be done with menstruation – so that a woman with a very painful period can stay at home,” Rodriguez told El Periódico news agency.
Menstrual leave is offered in some non-Western countries, including Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, Zambia and South Korea The hill.
Rodriguez cited a study that said over 50 percent of women experience painful periods. She said adding teenagers and adolescents to the number brings the statistic to 74 percent.
“If the problem cannot be medically resolved, we think it is very reasonable that there should be a temporary disability associated with that problem,” Rodriguez said. “It is important to clarify what is a painful period; we are not talking about mild discomfort but about serious symptoms such as diarrhea, severe headache, fever …”
The proposal would also help women undergoing abortion. Rodriguez said whether abortion is voluntary or involuntary, women endure the physical and psychological effects of the procedure. The reform would grant women “temporary disabilities” to recover from a term pregnancy.
“Therefore, it seems reasonable to us to propose that as long as the situation stays within the health framework used for temporary disabilities that allows staying at home for a few days after an abortion, there should be a permit. We think it’s common sense and maybe it should have existed much earlier,” Rodriguez said.
In addition to reforming working holidays, the Spanish government is also taking action to tackle inequality in access to menstrual products. The new law would also require schools to offer pads and tampons free of charge.
“One in four women cannot choose the feminine hygiene products they want to buy because of financial constraints,” Rodriguez said. That is why we propose that they can be given away free of charge in educational and social centers. As these products are very expensive, we will also propose a greatly reduced tax rate.”
As America faces a battle over abortion rights, Spain is making big strides to support women through menstruation and abortion.