Anyone who menstruates will know that it sucks. It's as simple as that. Some describe body-numbing pain, others the experience of serrated knives sawing at your insides. And if you're of the 10% globally who suffer from endometriosis, then we salute you. You are far better versed in the agony of menstruating than the rest of us. Yet, despite the entire annals of human history proving that period pain isn't always something that can be alleviated with a hot water bottle and a dose of paracetamol, that it's real and for the most part, unbearable, plenty have done their best to ignore it. Expecting women and gender non-conforming folk to grin and bear it. However, if you get your period and live in Spain, things are looking up.
Spain's socialist-oriented government plans to introduce legislation the would enshrine menstrual leave into law. While, they're not the first to do so globally, with South Korea, Japan and Taiwan having similar policies, it would make them the first country to do so in Europe, and an example to follow in Australia.
In an interview with El Periódico in March 2022, Ángela Rodríguez, Spain's secretary of state for equality said, "When there’s a problem that can’t be solved medically, we think it’s very sensible to have temporary sick leave".
“It’s important to be clear about what a painful period is – we’re not talking about slight discomfort, but about serious symptoms such as diarrhoea, fever and bad headaches," Rodríguez continued. Not a truer word was spoken. While not all people who menstruate are women, if world leaders are truly invested in advancing the welfare of women, this is certainly one way to do it.
The proposed draft legislation would make Spanish citizens entitled to three days of menstrual leave a month, plus two additional days in exceptional cases. It would be separate to paid holiday or sick leave, although at this stage it's unclear whether the menstrual leave would be paid.
While we're yet to whoop and cheer until the bill has been confirmed, it's this sort of lateral, yet practical, thinking we're yearning for here in Australia. It's funny as menstrual leave isn't necessarily a groundbreaking concept, yet since our leader of the past three years has had to consult his wife for matters concerning women, the comparison has rendered it practically revolutionary.