Italy could soon become the first European country to offer women paid menstrual leave

MPs have been debating a new bill in Italian Parliament that could mean all females will be offered paid, monthly time off if they need it. 

The bill will see women who suffer from painful period cramps, or dysmenorrhea, taking three days of leave each month. Employers will be obligated by law to grant these fully paid days off, which will be separate to general paid sick leave allowances. The potential new "menstrual leave" law was put forward by four female MPs in March.

 

 

The policy has spurred a lot of debate and divided opinion. 

Many have hailed the proposed law as a progressive step in the right direction. The Italian edition of Marie Claire magazine described it as "a standard-bearer of progress and social sustainability". Indeed, the policy could solve a real problem for women, meaning they no longer have to use up sick days when suffering from period pain. 

But critics have pointed out the move could actually be detrimental to women in the workplace and, in Italy, they are already struggling. Italy has one of the lowest rates of females in the workforce - with only 61% of Italian women working, compared to the European average of 72%. 

Some fear that, if the paid menstrual leave policy goes ahead, this disparity could increase, with companies being less inclined to hire women. Menstrual leave could add another barrier to women progressing, landing promotions and being represented in high-level positions. 

Miriam Goi, a writer for Vice Italy, also suggested that debate around menstrual leave "may end up reinforcing stereotypes about women being more emotional during their periods". The stigma around periods and taking this time off means women may not feel comfortable using it, even if it is made available. 

If it goes forward, the policy will be put into place in the coming months. 

 

 

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