Dysmenorrhoea—commonly referred to as 'period pain'—is severely underrated, even though a whopping 80 per cent of women undergo the cyclical albeit excruciating ordeal each month. While one may experience painful cramps right up until menopause, in a reported 5-10 per cent of women, the pain is severe enough to disrupt their lives.
In the pursuit of paying heed to a woman's distress, the Spanish government has introduced progressive health reforms that are looking to grant women three-day leave from work, owing to menstrual pain. The first Western country to do so, the measures are all set to be addressed—and approved—by the government in the cabinet meeting next week. Under the reform package, schools will also be required to provide sanitary napkins to girls in need. In addition, no value-added tax (VAT) will be levied on pads and tampons, a long-standing demand of women in Spain.
"The rights related to menstrual health have never been discussed and the data is chilling. One in four women cannot choose the feminine hygiene products they want to buy for financial reasons. This is why we propose that they can be dispensed free of charge in educational and social centres," explained Ángela Rodríguez, The Secretary of State for Equality and Gender Violence.
The three-day leave is intended to particularly benefit women who suffer from severe dysmenorrhoea. "It is important to clarify what a painful period is. We are not talking about a slight discomfort, but about serious symptoms such as diarrhoea, severe headaches, fever," she added. The Spanish government also plans to remove the requirement for 16 and 17-year-olds seeking parental permission for an abortion.
Besides Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, and Zambia, Spain stands next in line to pass a health reform that involves offering menstrual leave to working women in need. Rodríguez has also announced plans for Spain to become a leader in developing the male contraceptive pill, which could begin human trials as early as July, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota. The health ministry also intends to pass a law targeting the trafficking of women for prostitution in the country.