Billions of women around the world know what "that time of the month" means: cramping, bloating, feeling emotional, and extreme fatigue caused by their unavoidable, and very often painful, menstrual cycle.
Every woman's period is different, and it can be harrowing for some of us, especially if symptoms are uncomfortable enough to miss a day of work. Worried about the negative repercussions of using a sick day (or more) each month, some women just suffer through their extreme pain and go to work.
But, recently a professor of obstetrics and gynecology has proposed a radical idea in healthcare: menstrual leave for women. British doctor Gedis Grudzinskas believes women would be more productive at all times if they rested up during painful menstruation. Unsurprisingly, he's not alone in this sentiment: Various other doctors have labeled the symptoms associated with menstrual pain as a form of an acute illness, as some women have symptoms being as severe as migraines, vomiting and diarrhea.
Many Asian countries, like Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea, have already taken the plunge and begun giving women paid time off for those days that they're feeling extra crummy. Taiwan guarantees women three days of menstrual leave a year, in addition to their 30 days of half-paid sick leave. Although unpaid, Japan allows women to stay home on menstrual leave without the fear of losing their jobs. South Korea has even given women one day of menstrual leave per month, and if they choose not to use it, they are able to get additional pay from their employers. With so many Asian countries implementing laws for menstrual leave, who's to say it's totally out of the question for European countries, or even the United States?
Of course, some men feel this is an unfair "perk" given to women who are trying to obtain equality in the work place. (Hopefully, these men wouldn't also see maternity leave as a "perk.") Additionally, it's seen as another example of why women are controlled by their hormones and can't be considered counterparts to men due to their biological differences.
On the other hand, many women feel that this extra day off would be a beneficial step toward equality; men and women are biologically different, and this would force companies to consider the needs of each gender with equal importance. By having a day off on the most uncomfortable day of your cycle, women may experience a more positive attitude toward their jobs. This could create a happier work environment, which is important for interpersonal connections and the overall success of any office.
Seeing as how menstrual pain is such a common and dreaded regular occurrence, this is definitely an issue that should be discussed further by law officials and the public alike. Considerations such as these should be taken seriously in order to further the pursuit for gender equality in the workplace.