“Be courageous, put on a brave face, hide your pain, and go to work. You’ll have to endure it just for a day or two. Best to save a day off for when you’re genuinely sick.”

Sound familiar? How many times have you thought about taking a day off from work because period pain or other symptoms were unbearable?


In Singapore, according to YouGov:

According to an online survey by YouGov, for 53% of women in Singapore, period pain  can affect their ability to work. About a third of these women told their employers why they weren't able to work that day - more than half either (a) didn’t tell their employers that they were feeling unwell or (b) gave a different reason for their unwellness. And only 25% actually took a day off from work.

Recently, New Zealand announced paid leave for couples who had been through a miscarriage, and the news was received with mostly positive feedback online.

The Period Leave Debate and Facts Around the World:

In contrast, menstrual leave (which provides time off to menstruating women who are unable to work) has long been a topic of debate. Surprisingly, the policy has been in effect as early as 1947 in Japan, and later in countries like Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan and Zambia. While many women took it up when it was first introduced, it is now surrounded by stories of discrimination and harassment.

As a progressive move for women’s health and rights at the workplace; companies including Coexist (U.K.), Culture Machine (India), Gozoop (India), and the Victorian Women’s Trust (Australia) have started to implement different types of ‘period leave’. But they have been met by debate and discussion, especially in the U.K. and U.S., where the policy is almost non-existent.

A 2019 U.S. study showed that while 42% of participants supported a menstrual leave policy, 49% believed that this policy would have negative effects in the US., and 20% thought it might be perceived as unfair to men. One article, published by The Guardian in 2017, called it ‘silly’, arguing that it might unintentionally reinforce sexist beliefs and gender stereotypes.

Some women strongly oppose period leave, saying they don’t want to be considered unequal to men. Others say that they don’t need to be similar to men to be considered ‘strong’, or ‘capable’.

Here’s some info to help you form an opinion, before you decide - ‘Yea or Nay’!

Courtesy of The Sydney Morning Herald


The Yeas for Period Leave:

  • Could benefit the wellbeing of those with painful menstrual disorders (like endometriosis, dysmenorrhea etc.)
  • Could promote women’s productivity and encourage gender-equality at the workplace
  • Flexible leave options can help create #periodpositive company environments!  
  • Could help destigmatize periods and generate talk around the topic
  • Helpful for women with physically demanding or intensive work
  • Embraces a natural, female bodily function, different from men  

The Nays against Period Leave:

  • Due to pre-existing gender bias, it could amplify discrimination at the workplace
  • Could reinforce stereotypes of women being seen as ‘weaker’, or contribute to ‘the glass ceiling’/ gender wage gap
  • Could create a negative bias towards those who do use, or do not use the policy
  • Could be perceived as invasion of privacy in cultures where periods are taboo
  • Can portray periods as a disease rather than a natural, biological function

At the end of the Month:

Periods are a natural part of every woman. As natural as breathing, eating or visiting the loo~

We all need to acknowledge what mamma nature has created, with curiosity and an open mind… And at Scarlet, we believe in the power of natural remedies, and that nature knows best. We hope to help optimize women's menstrual health and overall performance so that every woman can live up to her fullest potential; and to destigmatize conversations around periods.

A space to talk openly about periods doesn't just spark more candid discussions like the one around menstrual leave; but also opens a path to new workplace benefits in the future (such as those created by Jacinda Arden’s government), or new movements like Equal Pay Day!

References

  1. Dan, Alice. 1986. “The Law and Women’s Bodies: The Case of Menstruation Leave in Japan.” Healthcare for Women International 7 (1–2): 1–14. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  2. Levitt R.B., Barnack-Tavlaris J.L. (2020) Addressing Menstruation in the Workplace: The Menstrual Leave Debate. In: Bobel C., Winkler I.T., Fahs B., Hasson K.A., Kissling E.A., Roberts TA. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Menstruation Studies. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-0614-7_43

  3. https://sg.yougov.com/en-sg/news/2017/10/12/period-pain-suffer/

  4. https://www.smh.com.au/business/workplace/menstrual-leave-the-new-woke-workplace-right-20190815-p52hlc.html

  5. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/11/20/business/period-leave-asia-intl-hnk-dst/index.html

  6. https://www.cnbctv18.com/buzz/period-politics-how-does-menstrual-leave-play-out-in-the-fight-for-gender-equality-811081.htm