Earlier this year, Spain became the latest country to adopt a national policy for menstrual leave, joining Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan, and Zambia. More and more companies worldwide are also adopting this progressive policy, offering staff access to leave on days when they’re experiencing pain or discomfort due to menstruation.
Organisations that choose to offer menstrual leave are sending a clear signal about their values and willingness to confront taboos and gender inequality. By now, we’re all used to hearing lofty statements and vague commitments from executives, but too few are taking bold, concrete steps towards meaningful change. This leave is one way to close the gap between rhetoric and reality.
In South Africa, AMANDLA Social Enterprises is pioneering menstrual leave in a big way; offering its employees, interns and volunteers access to paid leave as part of an organisation-wide policy. The 15-year-old social enterprise is a proudly South African organisation that works towards equality by enabling youth and community development in under-resourced communities globally. AMANDLA’s Safe-Hub model, endorsed as a best practice by the United Nations, provides access to holistic services in education, health, the green economy, employment, and entrepreneurship.
“For AMANDLA, inclusivity is a priority,” says Marketing Director Palesa Munzara. “And acknowledging and accommodating difference, whether we’re talking about biology, gender, race, ability, class, or religion; is how we make spaces inclusive. It’s also how we get closer to equality.”
Equitable policies like menstrual leave make equal access to opportunities and resources possible. They also ensure that everyone feels welcome, accepted, and valued. And in practice, everyone benefits from equitable policies and inclusive workplaces. Menstrual leave has been shown to increase productivity, participation, and retention.
The bottom line? If we value equality and inclusiveness in our societies, institutions, and organisations; then this leave is something we should all get behind.