Spain could become the first country in Europe to introduce innovative legislation for women on period pain.
A bill says anyone suffering from dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps) could have three days off a month, extended to five in some circumstances.
The bill also strengthens sex education in schools and the free distribution of contraceptives and menstrual hygiene products to schoolchildren.
If the bill is adopted, Spain will join other countries, such as Japan, Zambia and Indonesia, in allowing paid menstrual leave. It will also enhance the country’s reputation for championing women’s rights in Europe.
The new law stipulates that women should be offered paid leave when they suffer painful periods, with lawmakers in Spain adopting the new bill on Monday 19 December.
Alongside menstrual leave, easier access to abortions in public hospitals is also being evaluated.
The first reading of the proposal in the lower house of the Spanish parliament had 190 votes in favor, 154 against and five abstentions, which means that it is now up to the state to decide.
“This legislature is a legislature of feminist achievements,” Irene Montero, Spanish minister for equality and member of the radical left Podemos, told the Congress of Deputies.
She added: “We recognize menstrual health as part of the right to health and fight stigma and silence,” she added.
The Spanish policy on menstrual leave
Last year, a group of governments in Spain became the first in Western Europe to offer menstrual leave to their employees.
The Catalan city of Girona has offered flexible working arrangements, allowing people to take menstrual leave.
A few months later, the Spanish cabinet approved the Menstrual Leave Bill, giving workers the right to take paid sick leave due to severe period pain.
“We are making a law that will ensure that women can live better,” Montero said after the cabinet meeting and approval.
How does menstrual leave work?
Anyone with painful periods, including those who don’t identify as women, will be offered paid leave while not sick from work, which must be approved by a doctor.
They would be entitled to three days’ holiday a month, extended to five, in some circumstances.
Menstrual leave was initiated in hopes of balancing workplace demands and period pain.
Despite the country’s move in the right direction, there have been a number of reservations and concerns, particularly within the UGT trade union, one of the country’s two main trade unions.
They believe there will be a decline in companies hiring women due to this possible new legislation and paid time off.
It is not clear how the new law will affect those who work as freelancers or how companies and sectors will have to reform to comply.