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Spain becomes first country in Europe to provide paid menstrual leave

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Spain has granted people in the country the right to take paid menstrual leave, becoming the first European country to do so. The measure was passed by the Spanish Parliament on Thursday.

Under the new law, those who experience debilitating symptoms such as severe cramps, nausea or vomiting during their periods can take a three-day paid leave of absence with a doctor’s note. The leave will be funded by the state and can be extended up to five days. 

The measure is part of a package that also expands reproductive rights and transgender rights in Spain. It allows anyone age 16 and over to access abortion services or to change their gender on their ID card with a simple declaration. 

“Today is a historic day of progress in feminist rights,” Spain’s Minister of Equality Irene Montero wrote on Twitter. 

Under the law, certain public institutions such as schools and prisons will provide menstrual products for free. State-run health centers will also provide hormonal contraceptives and the morning-after pill. 

Only a small number of countries worldwide currently provide menstrual leave, including Japan and Indonesia

The right to menstrual health is part of the overall right to health, Montero said in an interview Thursday with Radio Euskadi, the public radio of the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country in Spain.

“I am very happy and, above all, I think it is a day for all women in our country,” she said, “and also [for] transgender people and LGTBI people to be happy and celebrate that their fight has consequences for expansion and progress in feminist rights.”

She added: “Spain is a country that is prouder today.”


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