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Irene Montero, the Spanish Minister of Equality, (with raised right hand), announcing the news, Source: Irene Montero on Twitter

Spain: the first European country to offer menstrual leave for women

Spain: the first European country to offer menstrual leave for women

The bill, however, still has to be approved by Parliament to become a law

Yesterday, 17 May, the Spanish Cabinet approved a draft legislation proposal which will clear the way for the country to become the first in Europe to allow leave from work due to painful menstruation. The overall Sexual Health bill also introduces changes to abortion rules making it easier for women to undergo that procedure with less bureaucracy involved.

Labour rights from a gender perspective

Irene Montero, the Minister of Equality, defended the move by stating that would make Spain a pioneering country on the continent in terms of recognizing menstrual health as a right for women.

"We recognize the specificity of this situation that many women experience: women who suffer from painful periods, who went to work with pills and could not say at work because they were incapacitated. What we do is remove that stigma, remove that shame, to be able to normalize that in our society we talk about menstruation as something that is part of our health as women," she underlined, speaking to RTVE.

Asked about how women can take that leave, the minister explained that "it will depend on each case and how they experience that disabling pain". It seems that it will be requested from the family doctor and will not have a limit of days. They will be "special temporary incapacities" and it will not be necessary to have previous contribution days, meaning they can be requested from the first day at a job.

If the Spanish Parliament also approves the bill, the Iberian country would become the first European country with such a law. South Korea and Indonesia are among only a handful of countries around the world that allow paid menstrual leave.

The law would cost the Spanish government (not the employers) some 23.8 million euros per year. The legislation is part of a broader reproductive health reform that is set to also include changes to Spain's abortion laws. Among the latter is the removal of the 3-day reflection period, which was mandated when a woman opted for an abortion.

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