Spain could become the first Western country to allow three days of workplace leave per month for women who suffer from severe menstrual pain.
The reform, which is part of a broader draft bill on reproductive health and abortion rights, was revealed by Cadena SER radio station and is expected to be approved at next Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting — but government sources told Spanish outlet El País that the draft is “not definite” and is subject to changes.
The proposal also includes other measures to improve menstrual health, like requiring schools to provide sanitary pads for girls who need them and removing taxes from their sale price in supermarkets.
In the same reform package, Spain’s left-wing government is planning to make abortion free in the country’s public health care system and allow 16- and 17-year-olds to get the procedure without parental consent.
The proposed measures come after Secretary of State for Equality and Gender Violence Ángela Rodríguez announced in March that new measures would be taken to support menstrual and reproductive health, including medical leave for women recovering from an abortion.
“We no longer want the topic around menstruation to be taboo,” Rodriguez told CBS News. “If someone has an illness with painful symptoms, a temporary sick leave is granted, so the same should happen with menstruation— allowing a woman with a very painful period should be able to stay at home.”
Some women who menstruate can suffer from dysmenorrhea, a severe pain that can be debilitating.
According to El Pais, the draft bill would make menstrual health part of Spanish women’s right to health, and it specifies that it would combat “stereotypes and myths about menstruation that still exist and that hinder women’s lives.”
“It’s obvious that we shouldn’t normalize working when we’re in pain. Yet, woman have spent years doing so. Time off due to period pain should be a recognized right.” Rodriguez said. “It is important to clarify what a painful period is. We are not talking about a slight discomfort, but about serious symptoms such as diarrhea, severe headaches, fever.”
Rodríguez added she wants Spain to become a leader in developing the male contraceptive pill, which could begin human trials soon.