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Would You Ever Take Period Leave?

The week of May 16, 2022, Spain is due to vote on a policy that would offer people with severe period pain three days of menstrual leave per month as well as provide free sanitary napkins in schools. If this passes, the country will become the first in Europe to offer any kind of policy addressing the extreme pain that often accompanies conditions like endometriosis, dysmenorrhea, and fibroids, among others. This could be a huge leap forward in addressing the very real needs of people with these conditions. However, if similar policies that already exist in Japan, parts of China, South Korea, Taiwan, Zambia, and at a handful of private sector companies are any indication of their effectiveness, there are still factors that often prevent those who need these policies from actually utilizing them.

Many people fear taking advantage of these policies because of the already pervasive stigma that exists regarding not just menstruation, but women in business. They fear repercussions including being skipped over for promotional opportunities because of their disability, something that is a very real concern. Others fear that their identity will be disclosed without their consent if a doctor’s note is required. Menstruation is not limited to those who identify as female, and implicit and explicit bias based on gender or sexual orientation means non-binary and transgender people who menstruate may be less likely to take advantage of the policy.

Still, given all of these considerations, if I had the opportunity to utilize a menstrual leave policy, I’d jump at it. I’m well aware that as a white cisgender heterosexual female, I have privileges that many others don’t and I want to fully acknowledge that my enthusiasm for a policy like

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