Most women know it only too well: periods can be linked to particularly annoying and painful symptoms. Cramps in the lower abdomen, in the kidneys, nausea, fatigue and countless other problems can make it impossible to live life as normal during this time of the month (not to mention irritability). Work becomes difficult, but it is still a taboo topic to discuss with your employer. Periods can be so painful, that if you’re one of the lucky women who doesn’t suffer too badly with them, you are sure to be the envy of your long-suffering colleagues. But if not, rather than going to work, you’ll find yourself with no choice but to curl up under a blanket, a hot-water-bottle on your stomach, armed with painkillers and a pot of ice cream.
Italy: will it be the first European country to start offering paid ‘menstrual leave’?
Italy could be the first European country to bring in leave days for women with painful periods. In fact, Italian MPs are soon to consider legislation proposing to allow women with painful periods up to three days leave per month. If this legislation is passed, it will allow women suffering from dysmenorrhea (painful periods) to take paid leave if they produce a medical certificate stating that this is necessary, which must be renewed once a year. However, could this really come to pass in Europe? What are the advantages, and disadvantages? A revolution, or a myth? Let’s have a look at it in more detail…
Unbearably painful periods are a reality for many women…
Period pains are sometimes extremely debilitating for women. Certain doctors describe these cramps as being almost as bad as the pain experienced during a heart attack. Dysmenorrhea prevents women from going about their daily lives. However, many women suffer in silence.
Such leave already exists in certain parts of Asia and Africa
It was in Japan in 1947 that leave from work because of period pains, called “physiological leave” was first introduced. It has also been introduced in Zambia, South Korea, Indonesia and Taiwan.
A revolution, or a new step towards inequality?
Even if Japan has authorised such leave, very few women use it, because companies reserve the right to decide whether the leave is paid or not. Certainly period pain is a reality, but there may be a risk of reinforcing stereotypes against women, suggesting that women are more emotional during their periods. Additionally, such leave may run the risk of affecting companies’ likelihood to hire women (who receive this ‘favour’), making them more likely to hire men. Something to think about..