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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

WATCH: Spain becomes the first European country to pass menstrual leave law

Spain has become the first European country to pass into law a menstrual leave policy which will allow women with especially painful periods to take paid leave.

The legislation was pushed through and approved by the Spanish parliament last Thursday, as part of a broader package on sexual and reproductive rights which includes allowing anyone 16 years and older to get an abortion or legally change their gender.

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According to Euronews, the law gives the right to a three-day “menstrual” leave of absence, with the possibility of extending it to five days, for those with disabling periods, which can cause severe cramps, nausea, dizziness and even vomiting.

The leave requires a doctor’s note, with the public social security system footing the bill.

The law states that the new policy will help combat the stereotypes and myths that surround periods and hinder women’s lives.

Under the new legislation, Spain will also roll out free feminine hygiene products in certain public facilities, such as educational institutions and prisons.

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When it was first unveiled last year, the draft bill also aimed to scrap or slash VAT on specific feminine hygiene products. That provision was ultimately left out but is expected to be revived in the government’s next general budget review.

Worldwide, menstrual leave is offered in only a few of countries, among them Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea and Zambia.

“It’s such a lightning rod for feminists,” Elizabeth Hill, an associate professor at the University of Sydney who has extensively studied menstrual leave policies worldwide, told Euronews Next last year.

The debates around menstrual are often intense, she said, with concern focused on whether such a policy can help or hinder women.

The Spanish Gynaecology and Obstetrics Society says around a third of women who menstruate suffer from severe pain, known as dysmenorrhea, with symptoms such as acute abdominal pain, diarrhoea, headaches and fever.


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