Let’s talk about menstruation leave. It’s a concept that’s been gaining traction in recent years, particularly in countries like Japan and India. But what exactly is it? And why is it important?

Simply put, menstruation leave is time off work that’s specifically designated for people who are experiencing painful or difficult menstrual symptoms. It’s a recognition that menstruation can be a challenging and sometimes debilitating experience and that people who menstruate should have the option to take time off work when they need it.

So why is menstruation leave important? For one, it acknowledges the fact that menstrual symptoms are real and often severe. From cramping and headaches to fatigue and mood swings, menstrual symptoms can make it difficult or even impossible to focus on work or other responsibilities. By allowing employees to take time off work when they’re experiencing these symptoms, employers can demonstrate that they value and prioritize the health and well-being of their employees.

But there’s also a deeper significance to menstruation leave. It’s a recognition that menstruation is a natural and normal bodily function and that it should be treated as such. By creating a formal policy around menstruation leave, employers can help to reduce stigma and shame around menstruation and create a more supportive and inclusive workplace culture.

Of course, there are potential drawbacks to menstruation leave as well. For one, it could reinforce harmful stereotypes about people who menstruate being weaker or less capable than their peers. It could also create resentment or tension among colleagues who don’t menstruate or who don’t experience severe symptoms. And there’s the practical question of how to implement and manage such a policy – who decides who is eligible for menstruation leave? How much time off is allowed? What documentation is required?

Despite these potential challenges, many advocates argue that menstruation leave is an important step towards menstrual equity and workplace fairness. By acknowledging and accommodating the challenges of menstruation, employers can help to create a more inclusive and supportive workplace culture for everyone.

But there’s also a larger conversation to be had here about menstrual equity more broadly. For one, there’s the issue of access to menstrual products and healthcare. Many people who menstruate struggle to access affordable or reliable menstrual products, which can have serious health consequences. There’s also the issue of the “tampon tax” – the fact that menstrual products are often subject to sales tax or other fees, which can disproportionately impact low-income individuals.

By advocating for policies and practices that prioritize menstrual health and well-being, we can create a more equitable and just world for everyone, regardless of whether or not they menstruate. Whether it’s through implementing formal menstruation leave policies, increasing access to affordable menstrual products and healthcare, or simply talking openly and honestly about menstruation, we can work towards a world where menstruation is seen as a normal and natural part of life.

About the author

Alice Cash is the Marketing Manager for Jubilance by day and an award winning Theatre Director by night.  Leading the podcast Weekly Woman, she loves her candid conversations with women from all over the world about how they live and the amazing things they are doing to make a difference. Alice is also the editor of the bi-monthly newsletter the Jubilee, a blog dedicated to the power of female wellness especially concerning menstruation.  She’s worked in France creating theatre pieces and taught drama and filmmaking to women and children in Haiti.  She graduated from Georgetown University and holds two master degrees from NYU and The New School.  Alice has traveled to  40+ countries, including Tibet.  She is a New Yorker and can often be found in Central Park, searching out the best bubble tea, or directing a play, you never know where she’ll show up. @alicesadventuresinwonderworld
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