Menstrual leave in Spain is an exciting step for feminism around the globe


Congreso De Los Diputados

Spain’s Minister of Equality, Irene Montero, speaking out in support of menstrual leave.

How is one supposed to act as if everything is normal while their insides feel as if they’re being squeezed and a war is raging in their lower abdomen? How is one supposed to work under conditions of severe pain? 

Keeping a straight face while a part of the body is painfully contracting is difficult for anyone, and yet, women are expected to do just that on a monthly basis. During the menstrual cycle, around 80% of women experience pain—the most severe cases involving intense cramps. 

Disregarding premenstrual headaches, bloating, breakouts, and mood swings, the cramps alone can be enough to disrupt everyday activities. Many don’t realize that cramps can last upwards of a week, coming in either intense spasms or dull and constant discomfort. 

A study from the National Library of Medicine found that period pain causes a significant decrease in school or work efficiency, and a majority of women with menstrual pain require medication to function at a usual standard. As one can imagine, this makes a job rather difficult when there aren’t nearly enough sick days to accommodate this.

To guys who underestimate the strength of a woman: everything you can do I can do bleeding.


To combat this issue, some countries have taken action. 

Japan was the first in this movement, including menstrual leave in the labor law back in 1947. The law was introduced after women protested the lack of sanitary facilities where they worked. 

Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Zambia have since followed Japan’s lead in granting menstrual leave in efforts to provide gender equality within the workplace. Every country varies in the number of paid off-days a woman can take due to their period, but they each have the same goal and reinforce their laws in similar fashions. 

Most recently, on Feb. 16, Spain became the first European nation to grant menstrual leave. The law outlines the right of female workers to take 3-5 days off per month depending on the pain level of their periods. The decree was coupled with other actions for equality and efforts to make periods less taboo. Furthermore, the Spanish government will finance this leave instead of individual employers. 

Currently, only a few companies offer menstrual leave in the United States, but recent action in other countries has further stirred this discussion. However, even among feminists, menstrual leave is a heavily debated topic. 

Some fear that introducing a leave for women will only widen work inequality in regard to employers favoring men. Still, many believe that menstrual leave is a powerful step toward equality to accommodate women’s bodies and health. 

Spain took a bold, powerful, and progressive step in providing menstrual leave, and only time will tell how the law will impact women and if similar changes will occur in other countries. Hopefully, all women will one day have their periods acknowledged and compensated for, especially when the pain is unbearable. 

Irene Montero—the driving advocate for the bill in Spain—promised to her people, “No more going to work with pain, no more taking pills before arriving at work and having to hide the fact we’re in pain that makes us unable to work.” This inspiring sentiment is a game changer for women in the workforce. 

With menstrual leave, women’s silent physical suffering at work will be an inequality of the past.