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Spain approves up to five days of paid menstrual leave in a progressive move

It joins the small list of countries who give paid menstrual leaves to people who are assigned female at birth.

Spain approves up to five days of paid menstrual leave in a progressive move
Image Source: Getty Images/Sarah Morris

Menstruation is a natural yet extremely exhausting and painful time in anyone's life. The accompanying cramps, nausea and exhaustion are hard to bear and that's why many people are unable to function well during this time. Hence, paid menstrual leaves is something that the feminist movement has been fighting for a long time. According to Euro News, only a few countries have this policy, including Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea and Zambia. Adding to this list, Spain has now become the first European country to introduce paid menstrual leaves, per Scary Mommy



People assigned females at birth can now take three paid days off, with the option of extending the leave to five days, if they obtain a doctor's letter stating that they are having painful or debilitating periods. The funds will be provided by the country's social security fund. The new Spanish regulation is part of a broader package of feminist and pro-trans laws that were voted on this week. In addition to paid menstruation leave, people over the age of 16 may alter their legal gender, anybody 16 or older can have an abortion, and conversion therapy is now banned.

Furthermore, the government has abolished its three-day "reflection time" for abortions and prohibited state funding for groups that "incite or promote LGBTIphobia." Now, people will get paid maternity leave beginning at 36 weeks of pregnancy, and free contraception, including free morning-after pills. Irene Montero, Spain's equality minister, told the parliament, "There will be resistance to its application, just as there has been and there will be resistance to the application of all feminist laws. So we have to work to guarantee that when this law enters into force, it will be enforced."



She tweeted a jubilant photo with the remark, "They are the law!" While many of them accepted the new paid menstrual leave law, it is not universally supported. There are accusations of "reverse sexism" and favored treatment on the right. Some on the left argue that the regulation would harm women and increase the shame associated with menstruation. Elizabeth Hill, an associate professor at the University of Sydney, told Euro News, "Is it liberating? Are these policies that recognize the reality of our bodies at work and seek to support them? Or is this a policy that stigmatizes, embarrasses, is a disincentive for employing women." 


During the Soviet era, the menstrual leave program was implemented in Russia to boost women's fertility. In locations like Indonesia and Taiwan, menstruation leave rules are primarily intended for manufacturing workers who operate in environments with rigorous restrictions and inadequate hygiene. Such policies still exist in Japan and South Korea, but the majority of women do not participate out of shame or fear of losing their employment. At the same time, studies have indicated that period discomfort, which includes cramps, headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, accounts for nine days of lost work or school for women each year. Due to stigma, only 20% of individuals who missed commitments acknowledged the true cause of their illness. However, laws like this are a step further to acknowledging how menstruation affects people and the stigma associated with it.

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