Spain approves plans to become the first European country to introduce paid 'menstrual leave'

In a first for Europe, the Spanish government has approved proposals to permit women to take an indefinite amount of paid "menstrual leave" from their jobs.

The plan, which was approved by ministers on Tuesday, is a component of a larger package on reproductive rights, which also permits teens to have an abortion after the age of 16 without obtaining permission from their parents or legal guardians.

The proposed law has been approved by the administration, but it still has to be approved by Spain's parliament, which may take many months.

The ideas, according to Spanish government spokesperson Isabel Rodrguez, were "a new stride ahead for women, a new step forward for democracy."

Last week, leaked information revealed that individuals with severe menstrual pain will be given three to five days of relief; however, the government has said that there would be no restrictions on how many days a woman can get.

According to the agreed-upon guidelines, women would require a doctor's letter, and leave would be reimbursed by the nation's social security system beginning on the first day they missed work.

An activist hot potato for feminists

Irene Montero, Spain's equality minister and a vocal feminist in the left-leaning administration, declared that it was time for institutions of state to "discard taboos, stigmas, and shame about women's bodies."

Following a cabinet meeting, Montero stated at a news conference that "the days of (women) going to work in agony are ended" and provided specifics of the proposed health law.

However, the subject is becoming divisive. Trade unions and politicians, including those in Spain's ruling coalition, are split over a proposal that some worry might backfire and stigmatize working women.

Only a handful of nations throughout the world, including Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea, and Zambia, presently grant menstruation leave.

When the legislative session ended in 2018, Italy tried to implement the notion in 2016 by introducing a law that would have granted employees who got medical certifications three fully compensated days off.

Elizabeth Hill, an associate professor at the University of Sydney who has thoroughly researched menstruation leave legislation all across the world, told Euronews Next that it is "such a lightning rod for feminists."

She said that the conversations around menstruation are frequently heated, with concern centered on whether a certain legislation will benefit or harm women.

"Is it empowering? Are these regulations supportive of our bodies at work and aware of their reality? Or does this policy stigmatize, shame, and make hiring women less attractive?"

The Spanish Gynaecology and Obstetrics Society estimates that almost one-third of menstruating women experience dysmenorrhea, a severe kind of discomfort.

Acute stomach discomfort, diarrhea, headaches, and fever are among the symptoms.

In a recent interview, ngela Rodrguez, Spain's Secretary of State for Equality and against Gender Violence, said, "We think it is quite fair that there should be temporary disability linked with this issue when the problem cannot be treated medically."

It is crucial to define what constitutes a painful period since we are not referring about little discomfort but rather to major symptoms like fever, severe headaches, and diarrhoea.

Making fun of ladies

Spain has not yet finalized plans to implement paid time off, and the left-wing coalition administration of the nation is said to be split on the issue.

Some Socialists have expressed worry that a menstrual leave might backfire against women by preventing companies from employing them, despite the far-left party Podemos pressing for it.

A leading Spanish labor union official, Cristina Antoanzas, even issued a warning that the action might "stigmatize women."

She told Euronews Next that in the long run, it may be another barrier for women to getting a job.

"Because it is common knowledge that we have frequently been asked whether we plan to become mothers—a question that neither men nor women should ever be asked. Will you ask us whether we are experiencing period discomfort as the following step?"

Antoanzas protested that the government's negotiations did not include the labor unions.

"The effects on women must be carefully considered when legal measures and changes are proposed. Whether or whether businesses will embrace it is unknown "She spoke.

Devil in the details Comisiones Obreras, the second-largest trade union in Spain, is in favor of menstruation leave.

Carolina Vidal, its confederal secretary for Women, Equality, and Working Conditions, told Euronews Next that they believe it will benefit women.

"We have battled stigmatization by society, politics, and the economy our entire lives. Do we now need to conceal ourselves because we are women and have unpleasant periods? This goes against feminism. No one should have to suffer at work ".

The proposal's specifics, notably the need that women demonstrate they have a disease like endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome, which is known to increase period discomfort, have drawn criticism from Comisiones Obreras.

How many women are we overlooking, Vidal questioned.

Periods can become intolerable and incapacitating in a huge number of cases, but they are not diseases.

The plan will be brought to the Spanish parliament for consideration as part of a larger package.

The requirement that 16- and 17-year-olds acquire parental approval prior to aborting a pregnancy is eliminated as part of the larger health measure, which also extends the right to an abortion.

Additionally, the proposed regulation will cut the VAT on feminine hygiene products sold in stores and make period supplies free to use in social and educational facilities.
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