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Spain Becomes the First Country in Europe to Offer Paid Menstrual Leave

The concept of paid menstrual leave is a current budding issue with strong supporters and opposers. Throughout the world, several countries are starting to support and consider menstrual leave legislation, so their companies can offer it to their workers. However, this isn’t a new concept for everyone. Some countries like Japan and Indonesia introduced the concept of menstrual leave as early as 1947 and 1948. It seems to be becoming more popular as South Korea and Vietnam have adopted it within the past three years as well. And now Spain has joined this list. 


On February 16, the Spanish parliament passed legislation expanding abortion and transgender rights for teenagers, along with making Spain the first country in Europe to present the opportunity for workers to take paid menstrual leave. Spain joins Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Zambia as countries and regions that also offer menstrual leave. 


The bill enacting paid menstrual leave was passed with 184 votes for, and 154 against, with three abstentions. Those in support of the bill were a wide-ranging left-wing coalition consisting of the Socialist Party, far-left Podemos, and two pro-Catalan independence parties. Those against were the conservative Popular Party and far-right Vox as they tried to stop the bill from being passed. 


People who menstruate in Spain now have the right to three to five days of menstrual leave a month. Period pain, also known as dysmenorrhea, is more common than you think. More than half of people with periods experience pain for one or two days every month. Of these people who experience pain, some even have cramps that make it so they are unable to perform day-to-day activities for several days, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists


Many believe that legislation like this could help normalize periods and period pain. Marian Baird, a professor of gender and employment at the University of Sydney, says it is “becoming more common and contemporary proponents argue they can advance gender equality by normalizing menstruation.” 


Baird also states some are worried about the effects of this new legislation. Of the women who contest it, some are “worried menstrual leave will reinforce negative gender stereotypes and notions of biological determinism, leading to more employer discrimination against women.” Both sides have valid points but Baird says it is hard to gauge the effects of these policies with them being so fresh. 


Along with paid menstrual leave, the bill also facilitates access to abortion in public hospitals and the free provision of menstrual products in schools and prisons. This means 16- and 17-year-olds in Spain can get an abortion without parental consent. Along with free menstrual products, state-run health centers will also offer hormonal contraceptives and the morning-after pill.


The Spanish Congress also voted to strengthen protection for LGBTQ+ rights which Irene Montero, the Spanish Equality Minister, chose to tweet, "historic day for advancing feminist rights," in celebration. Montero was the driving force behind these two laws and belongs to the junior member in Spain's left-wing coalition government, the "United We Can '' Party. One of the newfound changes that strengthen LGBTQ+ rights includes allowing any citizen over 16 years old to change their legally registered gender without medical supervision, as before this bill, transgender people needed a diagnosis by several doctors of gender dysphoria.

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Tags: #humanrights #LGBTQ #spain #paidmenstrualleave


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