Spain is considering legislation which would make it the first Western nation to offer monthly "menstrual leave" to women in the workplace.
"We will recognise by law the right of women with painful menstruation to a special temporary incapacity that will be paid for by the state from day one," said Spain's equality minister Irene Montero, an outspoken feminist in the leftwing government according to EuroNews.
"We are making progress so that it is no longer normal to go to work in pain and to put an end to the stigma, shame and silence surrounding menstruation. We are making progress on rights," she tweeted.
The proposed law would introduce at least three sick days each month for women who suffer from severe period pains, according to El Pais newspaper.
The newspaper reports that this "medically supervised leave" could even be extended to five days for women with disabling periods who suffer severe cramps, nausea, dizziness and vomiting. -EuroNews
Spain would join a handful of countries already offering menstrual leave, including Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea and Zambia.
"If this Spanish legislation is passed, and if it’s paid leave, it will set a new global standard, a gold standard," said Elizabeth Hill, an associate professor at the University of Sydney who has extensively studied menstrual leave policies worldwide.
Around a third of menstruating women experience sever pain known as dysmenorrhea, according to the Spanish Gynaecology and Obstetrics Society. Symptoms include acute abdominal pain, headaches, fever and diarrhea.
"When the problem cannot be solved medically, we think it is very sensible that there should be temporary incapacity associated with this issue," said Spain's Secretary of State for Equality and against Gender Violence, Ángela Rodríguez, in a recent interview with El Periodico, adding:
"It is important to clarify what a painful period is, we are not talking about a slight discomfort, but about serious symptoms such as diarrhoea, severe headaches, fever."
The new legislation is nowhere near passing, however, with the country's left-wing coalition reportedly divided over the plan after some Socialists voiced concern that menstrual leave could backfire against women by discouraging employers from hiring them.
Read the rest of the report here.