Spain Becomes First European Country to Offer Paid Menstrual Leave

By Alycia Maciel

Spain has become the first European country that approves paid menstrual leave of absence. As of February 17, 2023, women now have the choice to take their paid menstrual leave for three to five days if their periods cause them to feel uneasy. 

The National Equality Minister, Irene Montero, stated upon the legislature that “…with none of these rights, women are never going to be full citizens.” 

As reported by The National Institutes of Health, more than half of menstrual women endure period pain, often known as dysmenorrhea, for one or two days each month. Usually the pain is just about bearable, but for some women, it is so bad that it prevents them from carrying out their daily tasks. Even among women, there is opposition to the menstrual leave legislation. It is “…growing more prevalent, and modern proponents claim they can advance gender equality by normalizing menstruation,” according to Marian Baird, a professor of gender and work relations at the University of Sydney and co-author of a recent report on worldwide menstrual leave laws.

Both proponents and opponents of the proposal have spoken out. Spain’s General Union of Workers (UGT), issued a warning that such a menstrual vacation may stigmatize women in the workplace and cause employers to favor hiring men. 

Although menstruation leave is not frequently offered by American workplaces, more and more businesses are implementing this new policy. While it is not yet known if this will become a new law across the United States, we can anticipate an increase in the number of companies giving this paid menstruation leave as the year progresses.

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