Spain has introduced what many gender advocates are calling “a win” for women and girls when it comes to Menstrual Health Management. The country has introduced a 3-5 days paid menstrual leave to women suffering severe period pain, becoming the first European country to advance such legislation.
The law, which passed by 185 votes in favour to 154 against, is aimed at breaking a taboo on the subject.
According to Minister Irene Montero, this decision is momentous in terms of women’s health. This law has provided women with the right to paid absence during their periods. Women will be allowed to take leave while they are menstruating.
Other countries that have a menstrual leave in place include; Japan, Indonesia and Zambia. In Indonesia, under the Labor Act No. 13 in 2003, women have a right to two days of menstrual leave per month though these are not additional leaves.
Spain’s Menstrual leave was part of a broader law that also bolsters access to abortion services in public hospitals. The new legislation allows minors aged 16 and 17 to have an abortion without parental permission, reversing a requirement introduced by a previous conservative government in 2015.
In Zambia, as of 2015, women are legally entitled to a day off each month due to their menstrual leave policy, known as “Mother’s Day”.
In Indonesia, under the Labor Act No. 13 in 2003, women have a right to two days of menstrual leave per month though these are not additional leaves.
In Japan, since 1947, Article 68 of the Labour Standards Law states “When a woman for whom work during menstrual periods would be specially difficult has requested leave, the employer shall not employ such woman on days of the menstrual period.” However while the law requires that a woman going through especially difficult menstruation be allowed to take leave, it does not require companies to provide paid leave or extra pay for women who choose to work during menstruation.
In South Korea, female employees are entitled to menstrual leave according to Article 71 of the Labour Standards Law and are ensured additional pay if they do not take the menstrual leave that they are entitled to.
Spain decriminalized abortion in 1985, and in 2010, passed a law that allows women to opt freely for abortion during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy in most cases.
Throughout its history, menstrual leave has been associated with controversy and discrimination against women, with very few countries enacting policies. There is stigma related to menstrual leave according to some advocates as it may perpetuate stereotypes and further the medicalization of menstruation.