Spain is set to become the first Western country that would guarantee three days of workplace leave per month for women who experience harsh menstrual pain.
The draft reform comes after Secretary of State for Equality and Gender Violence Ángela Rodríguez announced in March that new measures would be taken to support menstrual and reproductive health, including medical leave for women recovering from an abortion.
The reform plan, which aims to close the gender gap, is set to be approved by the Spanish government on Tuesday. “If someone has an illness with such symptoms, a temporary disability is granted, so the same should happen with menstruation—allowing a woman with a very painful period to stay at home,” Rodriguez told El Periódico news outlet.
Menstrual leave is offered in a few non-Western countries including Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, Zambia and South Korea, according to The Hill.
Rodriguez cited a study, saying over 50 percent of women suffer from painful menstruation. She said adding teens and adolescents to the number raises statistics to 74 percent.
“When the problem cannot be solved medically, we believe that it is very sensible that there is a temporary disability associated with this issue,” Rodriguez said. “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 …”
The proposal would also help women who experience abortion. Rodriguez said whether abortion is wanted or involuntary, women endure physical and psychological effects from the procedure. The reform would grant women “temporary disabilities” for recovery of an end to a pregnancy.
“That is why it seems sensible to us to propose that there be a permit as long as the situation is within the health framework that is used for temporary disabilities, which allows one to be at home for a few days after terminating a pregnancy. We believe it is common sense and that perhaps it should have existed much earlier,” Rodriguez said.
In addition to the work-leave reform, the Spanish government is also taking measures to combat the inequality in accessing menstrual products. The new law would also require schools to offer free pads and tampons.
“One in four women cannot choose the feminine hygiene products she wants to buy for financial reasons,” Rodriguez said. That is why we propose that they can be dispensed free of charge in educational and social centers. Also, as these products are very expensive, we will propose a hyper-reduced tax rate.”
While America faces a battle over abortion rights, Spain is making big strides to support women during menstruation and pregnancy termination.
Newsweek reached out to Spain’s embassy for comment.