Have you ever been sitting behind your desk at work and you’ve come over with a wave of period cramping? If you have then you definitely aren’t alone. Work days are long and hard enough without your period screaming at you to sit on the couch with a hot water bottle and the sweet sound of Netflix.
Well, we have some good news for you. Some countries are now taking a stand and giving women paid period leave! Uhh, yes please, I’ll have some! Although many other countries are still far away from achieving this, it’s definitely a start towards period equity.
Women In the workforce + periods
Periods are the gift of life, but they can come with some painful symptoms, like period cramps. This can seriously impede on day to day activities.
A study in 2012 shows that 20 percent of women experience periods so painful that they can’t go to work. We all know what that means - no work means it impeds on our life, both financially and leisurely.
So, what can be done?
Standing up For period equity
Women shouldn’t feel discriminated for getting their period and having symptoms that can make them feel uncomfortable, and it seems the rest of the world is finally starting to catch on. Women are now standing up for period equity - an equal right that recognises the importance of a period, the care products required, and that fact that yeah, they come with some serious cramping and we may all need one day off!
With movements like the ‘HeForShe’ campaign or the ‘TimesUp’ campaign, voices are starting to be heard, and the same can be said for period awareness.
If your job doesn’t offer paid period leave yet, you can help encourage them to at least make your period more comfortable by stocking the bathrooms with free pads and tampons, like they do toilet paper. A survey showed that 86% of women have started their period in public and not had access to pads or tampons. That means these women probably left work to go to a drugstore and buy pads and tampons. Talk about inconvenient and a waste of time. At Blume, we believe all women should have convenient access to pads and tampons, and help companies with this by stocking their bathrooms with 100% organic cotton pads and tampons. Know a business that needs stocking? Let us know!
Countries joining the fight
Italy has recently been set to become the first Western country to introduce paid period leave, which includes three paid days of leave each month. However, the paid period leave is only available to women who have dysmenorrhea, which must be proven with a medical certificate to their employer and the medical certificate must be renewed each year.
Dysmenorrhea is period pain in the pelvis or abdomen, however women can also experience other symptoms including back pain, diarrhea and nausea.
Although many people are applauding the Italian government for introducing legislation that recognizes menstrual pain, critics are worried that it will worsen gender inequality in the workplace and negatively impact hiring practices. Uhh, okay then...
Maternity discrimination in Italy is already widespread, and “only 61 percent of Italian women work, well below the European average of 72 percent (in the United States, it’s 71 percent).” (Anna Momigliano, The Washington Post)
Currently, menstrual leave is implemented in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia. Japan’s menstrual leave has been a right for women since 1947! (You go, Japan!) Although the menstrual leave of the four countries varies (Taiwan only offering three days per year, compared to Japan’s two days per month) they all recognize that menstrual leave should be separate from common sick leave.
However, many women still take common sick leave for menstruation, in fear that taking paid menstrual leave will stigmatize them. But, countries aren’t the only ones who have implemented menstrual leave in the workplace. “Nike introduced menstrual leave in 2007 and makes business partners sign a memorandum of understanding to ensure they maintain the company’s standards.” (Kayleigh Lewis, Independent)
It’s certainly a start, and hopefully a movement that will continue to change the way period’s are viewed in the workforce.
What if I don't have paid period leave?
Don’t have paid period leave, but have painful periods and menstrual cramps? Here are some tips that can be done at the workplace to help relieve the effects of painful periods:
- Try a herbal tea to calm menstrual cramps
- Try getting some exercise during your lunch break- it can boost endorphins and help ease pain
- Massage with essential oils for pain relief
- Improve your diet to help cramps – a low-fat diet decreases overall inflammation in the body
So, what do you think of paid leave? Should women be entitled to it in the workforce without facing any discrimination? Periods are a huge part of our lives and something that should be embraced by all genders. Let’s say a big yes to paid period leave!