The land of pizza, Prada and prosciutto may soon introduce another thing women might enjoy: time off each month for our god-awful periods. Yes, you read that correctly—Italian women might get period days, i.e. paid menstrual leave.
Italy’s parliament is discussing a draft law that would require employers to give women three days of paid leave a month for painful periods. If passed, Italy will become the first Western country with a legit menstrual leave policy—which is rather embarrassing, since you know, it’s 2017. Making menstrual days law is a v. encouraging step towards dismantling stigma around period pain, and acknowledging that what women experience on the reg is real.
If you don’t get a monthly visitor, it can be hard to understand how debilitating period symptoms can be. On top of feeling like your lower abdomen is being stabbed by Chucky, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness and insane headaches are symptoms of menstrual pain. For women who have medical conditions like endometriosis or uterine fibroids, dealing with periods can be unbearable, and, in some cases, require medical treatment.
Periods are still a taboo subject—especially around men. To admit to a male boss that you need to work from home because your ovaries feel like they’re exploding isn’t exactly an easy—or comfortable—conversation to have. Since we live in a patriarchal society, women have been forced to either suck up their pain and go to work, or use their limited sick days—which makes it harder to take time off for other illnesses. For women who don’t have paid sick days, missing a day of work means losing money. Women shouldn’t be at a further disadvantage because of their bodies.
Women are worried, however, about potential repercussions. In countries like Italy, where only 61 percent of Italian women work, many fear that allowing period days will cause employers to hire men over women. And in Japan, which already has a menstrual leave policy, there’s stigma around women actually using it.
To those who think women would take advantage of monthly sick days, let me ask you this: do you really think that women, who already face discrimination and sexism at work, who get paid less and occupy fewer senior roles than men, would want to do anything to make their professional lives harder? Hell no.
Period pain is real, and if women who suffer from the health issue need a few days off, it should be their right as a human. If men got periods, this law would have been in place hundreds of years ago.
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