Spain is to become the first Western country to offer ‘menstrual leave’ for women suffering period pain while at work, set to be capped at three days per month.
The Spanish government is due to approve the measure next week, announced the Cadena Ser radio station.
Other countries in the world already grant menstrual leave, including Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, and Zambia.
Under the reform package set to pass at Spain’s next cabinet meeting on Tuesday, schools will also be required to provide sanitary pads for girls who need them.
The Secretary of State for Equality and against Gender Violence, Ángela Rodríguez, announced a package of measures to guarantee menstrual health and recovery of reproductive health on March 3, including giving leave to women who have an abortion.
‘The rights related to menstrual health have never been discussed and the data is chilling,’ Rodríguez told El Periodico. ‘One in four women cannot choose the feminine hygiene products she wants to buy for financial reasons. That is why we propose that they can be dispensed free of charge in educational and social centers.’
The time off is intended to benefit women who suffer from particularly painful periods.
Many women who menstruate suffer from severe pain known as dysmenorrhea, which can be debilitating in severe cases.
‘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,’ said Rodríguez.
‘Symptoms that when there is a disease that entails them, a temporary disability is granted, therefore the same should happen with menstruation and that there is the possibility that if a woman has a very painful period, she can stay home.’
Sanitary pads and tampons will have the VAT removed from their sale price in supermarkets – as well as being provided free of charge to women in marginalized social circumstances.
The Spanish government also plans to remove the requirement for 16 and 17-year-olds seeking an abortion to ask parental permission.
Rodríguez has also announced her plans for Spain to become a leader in developing the male contraceptive pill, which could begin human trials as soon as July, according to Researchers at the University of Minnesota.
The ministry also intends to pass a law targeting the trafficking of women for prostitution in Spain.