Morocco will become the second country in Africa to introduce a policy that will allow women to take menstrual leave. Despite being extremely divisive, the policy is gradually gaining support on a global scale, with early adopters acknowledging how difficult it is for women to be at work while suffering from menstrual pain.
The Moroccan parliament will introduce and implement the policy gradually, beginning with government personnel to gauge how useful and beneficial it would be. In the phasing procedure and after, female employees wouldn’t have to present medical documentation each time they needed time off from work.
The idea is a positive step toward gender equality and menstrual justice in the Middle East and North Africa region. Studies have shown that a great majority of women deal with either incapacitating monthly pain or unsettling symptoms. According to Women’s Health, 80% of women have menstrual pain at some point throughout their cycle, but in 5% to 10% of them, the pain is severe enough to interfere with daily activities.
People who do not have severe back, pelvic, or abdominal pain also deal with sore breasts, depressive mood problems, exhaustion, headaches, nausea, sleeplessness, brain fog, and difficulties focusing. Even while women eventually learn how to control their symptoms, many treatments are ineffective in a busy workday or office setting. In addition to socioeconomic constraints, not all women, particularly those working in the unorganized sector, have access to clean, secure restrooms at the workplace.
Menstruation is actually a workplace concern for developed countries and capitalists who solely value output. A 2019 Radboud University study of 32,748 Dutch women found that absenteeism accounts for several days of lost productivity.
Over the past 100 years, menstrual leave has been practiced in many different countries. The Soviet Union first enacted a national policy in 1922, followed by Japan in 1947 and Indonesia in 1948. However, it is still uncommon in many countries, particularly among businesses that should be interested. As a recognition of the different severity of menstrual symptoms, Japanese legislation neither requires nor restricts the number of days that employees may take off work.
In addition, employees in Taiwan receive three days of menstrual leave per year, which are not counted towards sick leave days, and pay is half of the employee’s regular pay. Employees in Zambia offer one day of menstrual leave per month. In Indonesia, employees do not have to report to work on the first and second days of their period as long as they notify their employer.
Menstruation leave regulations have been discussed in Italy, Chile, and Mexico, and some Australians have advocated in favor of paid menstrual leave.
However, those who oppose the policy have argued that menstruation is not a disease. They argue that women have worked during their menstrual periods for generations, so why do they make it a big deal now?
Some analysts have argued that policies and discussions on menstrual leave are unnecessary at the moment. They claim the discussion could harm participation and productivity at work, reinforce negative perceptions about women and reproduction, and further skew already anti-women business practices.