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Should Companies Offer Paid Menstruation Leave?

On May 28th we will be celebrating International Menstrual Hygiene Day. The mission of the day is to break the silence, raise awareness and change negative social norms surrounding MHM around the world. As well as engage decision-makers at global, national and local levels to increase the political priority for MHM and catalyze action.

So what's better than highlighting this tweet by Gloria Dhlamini-Liebenberg. Whom together with her husband is helping change the narrative around menstruation matters by choosing to provide their female employees with paid menstruation leave. We loved their initiative and when we shared her tweet on our Heels4Pads Instagram page as seen above, we also asked our followers whether they too would do the same if they had their own organisation. The post went viral and the comments section although filled with applause it also had negative reviews. What was sad to see is some saw menstruation leave as something that devalues gender equality, and these were comments by women, not men.

As I write this blog I have been battling debilitating back period pains for the last two days which made me lack the ability to literally do anything, I have been using my hot water bottle to help me live through the pain. In addition, I have not been able to eat properly because all I do is vomit and my mood has been filled with so much sadness, I keep crying and I am definitely not in a mood to speak or see anyone. I am fortunate for I have the luxury of working from home, I know of women who go through worse and honestly working in an organisation that would understand their need to work from home would be a great bonus. So personally I am of the opinion this is a great idea and it is something that companies should consider or at least give female the option to work from home especially on the first day of their periods, because there are so many levels of period pains and at times it can even lead others to be hospitalized, for instance, women who are diagnosed with endometriosis. In some cases, women even lose their job because this is not seen as a valid reason for not going to work.

I did further investigation as to whether this is something that existed globally and here are some amazing facts I discovered:

1. Zambia in 2015 became the first African country to enshrine a woman's right to menstrual leave in the law, giving them one day off a month when on their periods.

2. In 2019, female employees at Shark and Shrimp, a digital marketing agency in Egypt become the first company in the country to give women one day of paid leave each month for their period.

3. Menstrual leave is legally granted to women in Indonesia, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

4. In South Korea, women are entitled to additional pay if they do not use the menstrual leave to which they are entitled.

To see menstruation leave existing not only in a company but is also a legal requirement within certain nations has truly warmed my heart. Menstruation leave is in essence accommodating the challenges women tend to face when menstruating and we hope to see this as a growing trend globally!

We would love to hear where you stand on menstruation leave. Share your thoughts on the comment below.

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