Spanish legislators voted last week on a bill that would allow workers who experienced “severe menstrual pain” to receive paid leave when needed. This would make Spain the first Western nation to offer a menstrual leave benefit, as other countries in Asia like Japan, South Korea and Zambia currently have menstrual leave policies in place.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, up to 20 percent of women report that they have severe period pain, or dysmenorrhea, that interferes with their daily activities. Officials in Spain say they hope to shed a light on “menstrual inequality” and “period poverty,” which are often swept under the rug. These terms refer to the socioeconomic barriers girls and women face due to social taboos about managing menstruation.
With 190 votes in favor of the bill and 154 against, it will now go to the Spanish Senate. The bill also includes language to strengthen access to abortion in public hospitals. Equality Minister Irene Montero said the vote was a positive step in bringing awareness to the health concern. “We recognize menstrual health as part of the right to health and we fight stigma and silence,” she told the Spanish Congress.