Spain has become the first country in Europe to offer paid menstrual leave, as well as expanded abortion and trans rights.
The law provides the right to a three-day “menstrual” leave of absence, with the possibility of extending it to five days, for those with disabling periods, causing cramps, nausea, and dizziness. While a doctor’s note is required, the public social security system will foot the bill.
Irene Maria Montero Gil, the equality minister for Spain, stated that without these rights, women were not whole people in the eyes of the government.
While not the first country in the world to provide menstrual leave (Japan, New Zealand, and Zambia also offer paid menstruation leave), a majority of the Spanish Parliament was in favor of the new law. Of the 185 votes cast in Parliament, 154 voted in favor.
In addition, Spain also passed laws enshrining abortion and transgender rights. Under the new legislation, 16- and 17- year olds can obtain abortions without parental consent. State-run clinics will provide morning-after pills and contraceptives, while schools and prisons will offer free period products.
A second legislative package allows transgender individuals, 16 years and older, to change their gender without a medical diagnosis (previously, a diagnosis for gender dysphoria was required). The state will also provide support for lesbians and single mothers looking to have children through IVF.
The three initiatives have been met with strong opposition from right-wing parties that form Spain’s main opposition group.