Spain is getting ready to offer up to three days of paid menstrual leave to women.
The Spanish Government announced its plans to support menstrual health and recovery of reproductive health back on March 3. The ‘menstrual leave plan’ is due to be discussed and passed at the next cabinet meeting, when it will then be offered to women across the country.
Once passed, Spain will become the first European country to offer paid menstrual leave, although not the first worldwide as countries including Japan, Indonesia, South Korea and Zambia are already doing so.
The new move will also see workers granted leave for other reproductive health reasons, including abortions.
The law is part of a reform package set out by the Spanish Government and also includes removing VAT from sanitary protection such as pads and tampons, requiring schools to stock pads, and providing free period products for women in disadvantaged social circumstances.
The Secretary of State for Equality and against Gender Violence, Ángela Rodríguez spoke to the Spanish newspaper El Periódico saying "The rights related to menstrual health have never been discussed and the data is chilling.
"One in four women cannot choose the feminine hygiene products she wants to buy for financial reasons. That is why we propose that they can be dispensed free of charge in educational and social centres."
Menstrual leave will especially benefit people who suffer from dysmenorrhea, a condition that causes debilitating pain and cramps.
Whilst not all women suffer from debilitating symptoms each month, there are some who do experience extreme pain. This can be due to health conditions such as dysmenorrhea and endometriosis, these new provisions will be reserved for such women.
Rodríguez added that “It is important to clarify what a painful period is, we are not talking about a slight discomfort, but about serious symptoms such as diarrhoea, severe headaches, fever.
“Symptoms that when there is a disease that entails them, a temporary disability is granted, therefore the same should happen with menstruation and that there is the possibility that if a woman has a very painful period, she can stay home.”
Previous studies carried out, estimate that between 60% and 90% of young women worldwide suffer from dysmenorrhea - severe period pain. In Spain, that figure is approximately 75%, but according to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, exact figures are hard to clarify.
The latest move is also part of a wider abortion reform which will see girls aged between 16 and 17 allowed to have a termination, without their parents' permission.
The new law wants to guarantee that all abortions are performed in a public health centre or in an accredited private clinic.
Currently, in Spain, abortion is legal upon request up to 14 weeks. This can be later if the pregnancy poses a serious risk to the health of the woman or in the case of foetal abnormalities.
However, the issue remains controversial in the mostly Catholic country.
The bill will also guarantee public funding for hormonal contraceptives, the morning-after pill and free distribution in centres linked to sex education campaigns.
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