Women to be offered three days of menstrual leave every month in Spain

Video by Natalia Jorquera

Women suffering from period pains will be allowed up to three days off a month for menstrual leave under new legislation due to be passed by the Spanish government next week.  

The draft reform would be the first in Europe. 

Similar menstrual leave is currently offered elsewhere around the world, including in Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Zambia.

According to the Spanish Gynaecology and Obstetrics Society, around one-third of women who menstruate suffer from dysmenorrhea, the official name of period pains.

Period pains occur when the muscular wall of the womb tightens. 

They can be imperceptible or incredibly painful - with serious symptoms such as diarrhoea, severe headaches and fever.  

It is currently unknown why it is more painful for some women, but pains can last up to 72-hours. 

Credit: PA

A previous survey by the charity Bloody Good Period suggested that 73% of women struggled with work when menstruating.

Secretary of State for Equality and Against Gender Violence, Ángela Rodríguez, told El Periodico the statistics from similar studies were "unacceptable". 

She said: "This is unacceptable and should make doctors and society reflect. When the problem cannot be solved medically, we believe that it is very sensible that there is a temporary disability associated with this issue.

"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."

Other measures to improve menstrual health, including a requirement for schools to provide sanitary products for girls who need them, will also be brought in with the new laws. 

VAT from the sale of pads and tampons will also be removed in supermarkets and for others products will be free.

Ms Rodríguez added: "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 centres."

It is a problem that also being felt here in the UK. Hygiene poverty has been one of the hidden impacts of the ongoing cost of living crisis due to so few people wanting to speak out.

Hygiene banks have been set up across the UK in a bid to try and tackle the growing issue. 

Many toiletry and sanitary products have escalated in price - one supplier told ITV News ingredients have increased by as much as 30%.

As the cost of living crisis deepens, many will struggle with soaring energy costs and rising food bills. But hygiene banks have also had an uptick in visitors unable to afford sanitary products. ITV News' Consumer Editor Chris Choi reports.

A movement endorsing menstrual leave is growing, with more companies around the world starting to introduce the benefit.

In a poll by Reed and LinkedIn, 52% of professionals said they believed period leave should be a universal benefit in the UK. 

The Spanish government is also seeking to reform abortion laws, allowing girls aged 16 and 17 to have a termination without their parents' permission.

It has also been reported by Spanish media outlets that the bill will guarantee public funding for hormonal contraceptives and the morning-after pill, and free distribution as part of sex education campaign.

However, surrogacy would still be a criminal offence in Spain after the bill takes hold.

Officials would be able to prosecute couples who travelled abroad in the hopes of becoming parents.

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