Spain is set to become the first western nation to propose three days of menstrual health leave. The country would be following Japan, South Korea, and Indonesia. Also, there’s a proposal to end the tax on menstrual products.
The menstrual leave proposal is part of a whole national, political, social, and medical platform to address reproductive health rights for women in Spain. Potentially, 30% of the female workforce experience debilitating menstrual symptoms for days that impact their health and work performance. The proposal endorsed by Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s cabinet wants to give women three-day medical leave. A vast population could potentially benefit from this decision. There’s no doubt that this proposal has incredible social, political, and medical implications.
The three days of menstrual leave will be only for women who suffer severe period pains. According to the Spanish Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics, around one-third of women who menstruate suffer from Dysmenorrhea, the official name for period pains. On the other hand, a Bloody Good Period survey found that 73% of women struggle to do their work the way they want to because of their period.
More companies around the world are starting to introduce this benefit. But Spain isn’t the first country to offer this. Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, and Zambia already grant menstrual leave, which explains why the movement endorsing period leave is growing.
Indonesia is the most permissive country in the world in this regard. Since the mid-20th century, there has been legislation that contains sentences such as “working women cannot be forced to work on the first and second day of menstruation.” In this country, article 81 of the labor law also recognizes that women can have up to two days of paid leave if they suffer from pain during menstruation, as long as they inform those responsible for the company, and it is included in the contract.
Although, as in Japan’s case, many Indonesian women decide not to apply for leave for fear of retaliation by the company, which in any case will be penalized for not complying with the right outlined in labor law.
On the other hand, Spain’s abortion reform will eliminate the current VAT of 10% on feminine hygiene products, such as pads and tampons, and others related to child care, such as diapers. The law will guarantee the voluntary interruption of pregnancy in public health and end the requirement of parental consent for girls aged 16 and 17. Among other issues, it establishes that feminine hygiene products will be distributed free of charge in educational and social centers and prisons so that women in vulnerable situations can acquire them.
Spanish Minister of Equality Irene Montero already explained in February to the Equality Commission of Congress that, with this regulation, “menstrual health will become a determining standard when assessing access to health for women, and guaranteeing it will be an obligation of the State and the public powers.” In this sense, she said, the law will address the fact that essential products for most women “remain enormously expensive” or the possible development of a male contraceptive pill so that women are not the ones who always bear the responsibility in this matter.