Dysmenorrhea can be a b*tch, especially for those with conditions like endometriosis or premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Menstrual cramps are lower stomach cramps with pain that can reach the thighs, lower back, and groin. It can even be accompanied by diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and headache. So you can imagine how annoying it is when people who’ve never experienced it before are the ones who are loudly against legislating paid menstrual leaves.
Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas filed a House Bill No. 7758 on Mar. 22 that seeks to grant “all female employees in private and public sectors,” with the exemption of pregnant or menopausal women, a maximum of two days paid leave due to premenstrual or menstrual tension. The Menstrual Leave Act defines this tension as a physical or mental lack of well-being or uneasiness.
“There is a need to provide women with the flexibility and support they need to manage their reproductive health without the fear of negative consequences such as losing pay, falling behind in work, or facing disciplinary action. Thus, the immediate passage of this bill is earnestly being sought,” wrote Brosas in the bill’s explanatory note.
READ: House assistant minority leader Rep. Arlene Brosas files House Bill 7758 pushing for maximum of two days of paid menstrual leave to all female employees in private and public sectors. | @JMAurelioINQpic.twitter.com/UxwFpFjHWN
One of the bill’s loudest critics so far is former senator Ping Lacson who is seemingly trying to paint it as unreasonable by posing hypothetical mandated “menopause and andropause allowances to increase the testosterone levels of workers.” Those who agree with Lacson’s take also fear that the Menstrual Leave Act might breed inequality. But as a number of netizens point out, improving labor conditions and advancing the right to health isn’t a competition. Should there be a proposal for the benefit of elderly citizens, we’d welcome that, too.
Lacson also tweeted, “It may cause layoffs, shops closing, joblessness leading to economic, political, and social instability. Who will gain from these?” As Brosas pointed out in the bill’s note, menstrual leaves had been introduced in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Spain. Menstrual leave orders have also been implemented in La Union and Tangalan, Aklan. It can be done, especially with progressive government leaders who prioritize the well-being of their constituents.
Maternity leave, paternity leave and now, menstrual leave – all with pay. Next time, a legislative measure will be filed mandating menopause and andropause allowances to increase the testosterone levels of workers.
Yet the reality is that these policies aren’t as successful because of the fear of backlash for accepting mandated services, then maybe this proves that such programs are needed along with stronger efforts to oppose misogyny.
“We advise former senator Panfilo Lacson to listen first to the reasons why women are demanding a paid menstrual leave as contained in our House Bill 7758 instead of floating all sorts of illogical subsequent proposals that would arise from our measure. It is important to understand that granting paid menstrual leave to female workers and employees is both a matter of women’s health and productivity improvement,” Gabriela Partylist wrote in their response to Lacson sent to Preen.
“The experience of throbbing pain and other symptoms during women’s monthly periods is not something which women made up—it is a shared reality which women have to endure on a monthly basis. For the longest time, women are working through their monthly period pain which, according to several studies, translate to a sizable number of days of lost productivity, aside from additional healthcare costs due to over-the-counter medication,” the partylist stated. “To reduce women’s demand for menstrual leave to a plane alongside testosterone-boosting leaves for men is to trivialize women’s pain. We wish the former senator could have listened and empathized more to women, instead of issuing an insensitive comment out of nowhere.”
Here’s to hoping for better labor conditions for menstruating people!