Socialist Spain to Offer Monthly Menstrual Leave for Women

Women attend a demonstration marking International Women's Day in Madrid on March 8, 2019. - Unions, feminist associations and left-wing parties have called for a work stoppage for two hours on March 8, hoping to recreate the strike and mass protests seen nationwide to mark the same day in 2018. …
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The Socialist government of Spain is set to become the first country in Europe to offer women monthly leave from work for menstruation.

As a part of the upcoming abortion legislation spearheaded by the socialist government’s Minister of Equality, far-left MP Irene Montero, women will be allowed to take three paid days off per month from work if they are experiencing pain associated with periods.

The draft law says that this could be extended to up to five days off of work for those women suffering from intense symptoms such as severe pain, cramps, nausea, dizziness, or vomiting,  the El Pias newspaper reported.

The abortion legislation, which is set to legalise sixteen-year-old children to seek abortions without parental consent, will also seek to eliminate the ten per cent tax on feminine hygiene products and provide women with free contraceptives such as the morning-after pill and longer-term hormonal contraceptives. Schools and prisons would also be required to provide women with free menstrual products.

Currently, only a handful of countries, including Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Zambia offer women paid menstrual leave from work.

Justifying the measure, Spain’s Secretary of State for Equality and against Gender Violence, Ángela Rodríguez told the El Periodico newspaper: “When the problem cannot be solved medically, we think it is very sensible that there should be temporary incapacity associated with this issue.”

The measure, which has not been ratified by the Spanish parliament, has sparked debate in the country as to whether it stigmatised women in the workplace.

The deputy secretary-general of the Unión General de Trabajadores, Cristina Antoñanzas argued that giving women time extra time off for their periods will “return the focus on women on an issue that differentiates us from men” and therefore could prevent some women from obtaining jobs.

Others, including the director of gynaecology at the  Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, Elisa Llurba argued that it is “necessary” for some women to be offered the time off.

“In the end, it’s a disease like any other. If you have moments when you are worse off, you have the right to leave if the pain makes your job impossible. The problem is that it has always been thought that it is a pain that you have to go through and you have to put up with it because it is a pain for women,” she said.

The legislation is expected to be put forward before the Council of Ministers on Tuesday.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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