By Benjamin Flowers: Spain is preparing to table legislation that would allow women three days off per month for menstrual leave, Euronews reports.
Details of the legislation are expected to be revealed on Tuesday; however, reports thus far say that it will contain not only leave for women but the removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) on hygiene products making them more accessible, as well as making those products free in schools and educational centers.
The move is being praised as a step in the right direction for women, with Spain’s Equality Minister, Irene Montero saying that the law will recognize the right of women with painful menstruation to a special temporary incapacity that will be paid for by the state from day one.
“We are making progress so that it is no longer normal to go to work in pain and to put an end to the stigma, shame, and silence surrounding menstruation. We are making progress on rights,” Montero tweeted.
However, not every sector is receiving the news well. Trade unionists have raised concerns that the law may work against women seeking employment later on. Cristina Antoñanzas, deputy secretary of the Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT, General Union of Workers), a leading Spanish trade union, said that the law could lead to women being stigmatized.
“In the long term, it may be one more handicap that women have in finding a job,” Antoñanzas said. “Because we all know that on many occasions we have been asked if we are going to be mothers, something that must not be asked and that men are not asked. Will the next step be to ask us if we have period pains?”
Spain passing the legislation would make it the first European country to do so; however, there are other countries that have already ventured to secure menstrual leave for their women, these include Japan, South Korea, the Republic of China (Taiwan), and Zambia.