Should women receive paid menstrual leave?

Publish Date
Thursday, 30 March 2017, 11:20AM
Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

Periods are a huge inconvenience. When blood isn't gushing out of our vaginas ruining our best underwear, the devil himself is crawling into uteri setting fire to our ovaries; all because we did the responsible thing and didn't get preggo. UNFAIR. 

Periods can be painful to say the least, and some women get it worse than others, which has got people thinking that a menstrual leave policy (as an extension of sick leave) should be put in place for female employees. Many women already use their sick days for menstrual related symptoms, leaving fewer days for other medical afflictions. Women do not get less sick than men, so if we have to take off extra days for menstrual discomfort, there is a noticeable inequity in the work place. This is the case currently being proposed in Italy, and it's causing all sorts of controversy.

If approved, the law would provide women with three extra paid sick days specifically for the use of period related discomfort. South Korea and Japan already have similar policies in place, as well as companies like Nike. Way to be progressive! 

So what's the problem?! Those unsure about the law argue that such a policy will lead employers to hire men over women, which is already an issue in a lot of industries. Unfortunately this is a valid point, women are already disadvantaged in the workplace; studies worldwide proved that hiring men over women can often be influenced by the fact that men will not be taking maternity leave, and therefore it is financially and efficiently more beneficial to the employer, to hire men.

This could also effect women's salary, and could influence how much an employer decides to pay a female worker, based on the fact that they have more paid leave than men.

Such a law could also reinforce negative stereotypes about women on their period. There is already an increased amount of negative stigma surrounding PMS and menstruation. Not only do we have to deal with the disadvantage of a period, we also have to put up with the disgraceful amount of disrespectful jokes and shame that comes from men, and even women, poking fun at a completely natural and normal process.

When having debates on issues regarding equality, it's important to remember that men and women are biologically different. This is a fact. While there are an infinite amount of societal double standards effecting men and women, having a period and carrying a child is a biological disadvantage to women. 

This is when equity should be considered over equality. While equality offers sameness, equity offers fairness in accordance with circumstance. Let's have some of that.