Spain is set to become the first Western country to offer three days of breathing space for women who suffer from intense menstrual pain. The country will allow three days of workplace leave for women to support menstrual and reproductive health. This reform includes medical leave for women recovering from an abortion.

Menstrual leave is currently offered only in a small number of countries including Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea, and Zambia.

The reform is part of a broader draft bill on reproductive health and abortion rights. This reform was vouchsafed by Cadena SER radio station. Although the government told the Spanish outlet El País that the draft is “not definite” and is subject to changes, the proposal is hopefully expected to be approved at next Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.

 

“If this Spanish legislation is passed, and if it’s paid leave, it will set a new global standard, a gold standard,” said Elizabeth Hill told EuroNews., an associate professor at the University of Sydney who studied menstrual leave policies worldwide.

The proposal also includes other actions to enhance menstrual health, like requiring schools to supply sanitary pads for girls who need them. Also, taxes will be removed from their sale price in supermarkets.

“We will recognize by law the right of women with painful menstruation to a special temporary incapacity that will be paid for by the state from day one,” Spain’s equality minister Irene Montero, said on Friday.

“We are making progress so that it is no longer normal to go to work in pain and to put an end to the stigma, shame, and silence surrounding menstruation. We are making progress on rights,” she said on Twitter.

Spain will be the first Western country to give 3 days of 'menstrual leave'
“If this Spanish legislation is passed, and if it’s paid leave, it will set a new global standard, a gold standard,”

Also in the same reform package, Spain’s left-wing government mapped out a plan to make abortion free in the country’s public health care system and the package will allow 16- and 17-year-olds to get the procedure without getting consent from their parents.

In March 2022, Ángela Rodríguez, Secretary of State for Equality and Gender Violence announced that the country will take new actions and measures to support and enhance menstrual and reproductive health.

“We no longer want the topic around menstruation to be taboo,” Rodriguez told CBS News. “If someone has an illness with painful symptoms, a temporary sick leave is granted, so the same should happen with menstruation— allowing a woman with a very painful period should be able to stay at home.”

“It’s obvious that we shouldn’t normalize working when we’re in pain. Yet, women have spent years doing so. Time off due to period pain should be a recognized right.” Rodriguez said. “It is important to clarify what a painful period is. We are not talking about a slight discomfort, but about serious symptoms such as diarrhea, severe headaches, fever.”

 

Some women who menstruate can suffer from an intense pain called dysmenorrhea that can be exhausting.

“We have been fighting all our lives against stigmatization by society, politics, and the economy. Do we now have to hide because we are women and have painful menstruation?” said Carolina Vidal, Comisiones Obreras confederal secretary for Women.

“How many women are we leaving out?” Vidal said. “In many, many cases periods become unbearable and disabling, but they are not considered illnesses”

According to El Pais, menstrual health will become a part of Spanish women’s right to health, and the broader draft bill will help combat “stereotypes and myths about menstruation that still exist and that hinder women’s lives.”

“Let me repeat it very clearly, this government believes in and is absolutely committed to gender equality and we will never adopt measures that could result in the stigmatization of women,” said Economy Minister Nadia Calviño.

 

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