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Menstrual Leave: Will It Ever Happen In Kenya?

Here's why it should be considered.

BY Agnes Amondi

Mar 15, 2023, 11:48 AM

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In February, Spain became the first European country to legislate paid menstrual leave for female employees which grants them three days off work every month. Its government noted that it is one of the things the country is doing to eradicate the taboo around the subject.

Asian countries have been at the forefront of this legislation with Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea, India and China adopting the policy.
In the continent, Zambia remains to be the only country that has given its female workforce this alternative. They are allowed to take a day off every month without having to produce a health certificate or an explanation to the employer of their whereabouts.

Here, it seems like we are still light years away from this as most of our legislators do not want to hear about the matter. After Senator Gloria Orwoba’s bold act, some expressed their embarrassment over having the issue publicly discussed. 

That said, for a country that sees girls miss out on school and one even dying by suicide after period shaming, should we even be thinking about the introduction of paid menstrual leave for female employees?

Acknowledging The Female Workforce.

A lot of companies say that they care about their employees' welfare and that might be true but only to a certain extent. It’s only recently that workplaces have started to adjust the workplace to accommodate expectant and lactating mothers. That said, the one issue that remains swept under the carpet is periods. 

We report to work despite the menstrual symptoms we have, some of which might range from a sudden fever, joint pain, low energy levels and bloating. At times, it becomes very difficult to ask for time away or even share that you are suffering from these symptoms as a result of having your menses. 

There’s no structure that supports such reporting or discussions and so most of us try and suck it up and do the best we can. A pain menstrual leave will acknowledge the experience of your female employees and appropriate help extended.

It Will Lead To Increased Productivity.

Even before the actual cycle starts, we suffer from the impact of the menstrual cycle which highly likely interferes with our productivity. From constant tiredness to slight pain in the abdomen, most female employees just do whatever their body allows them to.

This leads to a lack of concentration and less work inadvertently getting done. Mind you, this happens over a few days so the sooner the law takes into consideration such things, the better not just for the women but also for their companies and the economy at large. 

It Normalises Period Conversation. 

As society refuses to talk about menstruation, making such a law would open up talk. You might argue that it will be forced but it doesn’t really matter. Everyone will be involved and it will even lead to some people educating themselves about periods.

Additionally, having to take sick leave to deal with period pain will be a thing of the past. Most of us aren’t comfortable being direct about this issue and thus call in sick. However, having paid menstrual leave will sort this out. 

That said, menstrual leave might not be the silver bullet we are waiting for. In some of the countries indicated above, women refuse to take period leave for many reasons among them, they feel discriminated against, privacy issues, the inability to take regular leave days due to economic restraints and the possibility of being viewed as a weaker and unreliable employee.

Nonetheless, we maintain that the policy is necessary and presents good outcomes for women and the workforce.

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