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Spain’s recent menstrual leave law should be embraced by other countries
Recently, Spain, a normally socially conservative country, has joined Japan, Indonesia, and Zambia in passing a new law that protects women’s reproductive health. Part of this new law states that women can now get paid menstrual leave.
Before I continue, I’d like to state that, based on my research, there is one question that is still up in the air. The question is whether people who don’t identify as cis women will also be protected and accommodated under the law. As a result, my opinion will mainly focus on cis women.
Unsurprisingly, there’s been some political discourse over the law. The opposition party and unions have been arguing that passing the law will have future consequences for women in the workforce. They claim that companies will opt to hire more men and it will make women feel uncomfortable and stigmatized.
I have to disagree with this view. I can see why they would be concerned to a certain extent, but if the law ensures that people can’t take advantage of this in the future, then it’s difficult to support the oppositional view.
The reason for allowing menstrual leave is to assist those who experience debilitating and extreme symptoms due to menstruation, such as fainting, vomiting, and excruciating pain. And to qualify for this leave, a doctor’s note is required. Unless you feel any of these extreme symptoms, you won’t qualify. Realistically, you can still take a paid sick leave should you feel uncomfortable with going to work on your period. Paid sick leave in Spain, and much of Europe, is already in place; it isn’t new.
For men who believe this is unfair, they should realize this is to acknowledge that period pain is real. Those who take time off aren’t pretending they’re in pain for a free day off! Many women have extreme pain due to undiagnosed chronic illness and that is the reason why they require paid leave. If periods were considered chronic illnesses from the start, then the amount of unnecessary discourse I’ve perused would probably not exist.
Something else to note is that the government is funding these paid sick leaves, not the companies. I’m not exactly sure why the opposition party is so pressed over the situation – it’s not like businesses will suddenly collapse. If the state feels they are able to pay for menstrual leave, then what’s the harm? Not every person who has their period has extreme symptoms. I’m not sure if this will cause people to fake their symptoms for the note, and I’m not a medical expert, but there should be a procedure put in place to discern fakers, and the law should implement this to ensure nobody abuses it. Hopefully, clearer information will be established in the future.
And for a company to decide not to hire women over this law is ridiculous. It’s discriminatory and it’s almost the equivalent of not hiring a pregnant woman. Jobs are meant to be fulfilled by people with the right competencies. If a company’s hiring process wants to disqualify those who have periods and babies, it’s just a tenth-rate company. They are blatantly admitting that they don’t have any respect for normal female bodily functions and cannot comprehend that their own mothers experienced the same.
I think the people complaining about menstrual leave are complaining about something very miniscule. Spain is taking a great first step and is setting an example for other nations. They’re also supplying schools and prisons with free period products, which is amazing! I’m surprised Canada hasn’t at least reached the point of offering free period products.
It’s a waste of time for someone to focus on this topic and not support it, or make a fuss without making valid points to improve the law. If you’re a man who’s feeling peeved and making a big deal about it, try this. Stop focusing on reproductive rights that have nothing to do with you. That’s a good first step when trying to form a political opinion.