Spain’s proposed law of ‘feminist conquests’ to give paid menstrual leave

Spain has moved forward to approve a bill that when passed as law, would grant paid medical leave to women who suffer from pain during their menstrual periods. Madrid has become the first European capital to advance such legislation. The length of sick leave that doctors will be able to grant to women suffering from painful periods has not been specified in the bill.

This bill also provides for the reinforcement of sex education in schools as well as the free distribution of contraceptives and menstrual hygiene products in high schools. “Menstrual leave” is one of the key measures in the legislation. Other significant measures in the proposed law include increased access to abortion in public hospitals. It also includes a measure to allow minors aged 16 and 17 to have abortions without parental permission. 

Spanish lawmakers, in the lower house of parliament, adopted the bill with 190 votes in favour, 154 against and 4 abstentions. The bill will now go to the Senate. 

Spain may become fewest of few nations with paid menstrual leave

If the proposed bill passes the senate test as well, Spain will become the first country in Europe and one of the fewest in the world to grant paid leave to women suffering from painful periods. The other few countries with similar legislation include Japan, Indonesia and Zambia.

Proponents call it a law of ‘feminist conquests’

“This legislature is a legislature of feminist conquests,” Irene Montero, Spain’s Minister of Equality and a member of the left-wing Podemos, an ally of socialist prime minister Pedro Sanchez’s government, told the Congress of Deputies.

“We recognise menstrual health as part of the right to health and we fight stigma and silence,” she added.

What are the critics saying?

The UGT trade union, one of Spain’s two major unions, raised concerns that employers who would want to avoid menstrual leave-based absences may not hire women at all, EuroNews reported. 

Spain is one of the countries considered a reference point for women’s rights, despite the dominance of France and French philosophers in overall feminist discourse. The current Sanchez government has more women than men in its ranks.

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