“I see more benefit on ‘bad days’ than on menstruation.”

“What if every employee has a limited number of bad days in the year? That way we don’t normalize the painful periods and give everyone the right to hit the pause button,” wrote Desiree Wagnar (27), opinion maker at StampMedia, blogger and philosophy student at Ghent University.

Recently, the Spanish government introduced a bill that would make “period leave” possible for women who have painful periods. This is a stop business fully funded by the government. “Menstruation will not be a taboo,” says Spain’s Minister of Equality, Irene Montero. In our country there are also votes for menstruation leave.

A few days ago, an opinion piece by Asita Canko (N-VA) was published in De Standard, criticizing the Spanish proposal. I agree with her argument, and even want to add something to it.

A period leave will not benefit discrimination against women in the labor market, on the contrary.

First, painful periods are not normal. We’ve known for centuries that pain is a signal that something is wrong with the body. So why do we normalize periods of pain? We need to get rid of the idea that “the time of the month” comes with pain. More research is needed sooner to find out why a person develops period pain. There are many cases with similar complaints and most of them require prompt treatment.

Just take a pill

“Take a pill and those days will pass.” Or: “Crawl on your bed with a cherry wood pillow.” Relief of symptoms through and through. reason? This was ignored. As if this pain is not coming from anywhere.

Generation after generation, young adults grow up believing that painful periods are only part of the game. From Moods to Pain: You’re a woman, accept that.

This bothers you, doesn’t it?

I was 12 when I first got my period, in the summer between sixth grade and high school one. Months and years passed and every month it happened in time. For a long time I believed that periods were usually accompanied by cramps or backaches. I thought I was lucky it didn’t bother me. The idea of ​​painful periods is a constant in our society. Young girls think pain is part of it and don’t question it. Doctors also think so and are not investigating further. With all its consequences.

This pain comes from somewhere

sometimes he is It’s also true that period pain has no underlying cause outside of a contraction of the uterus, but sometimes this pain stems from an underlying and even serious condition. Just think of endometriosis, fibroids (myoma), adenomyosis (endometriosis in the muscle of the uterus and/or fallopian tubes), pelvic pain syndrome, pelvic inflammation or a narrowed cervix (cervical stenosis). Some of these conditions can lead to infertility if left untreated for a long time. According to Kanko, there is at least a seven-year (!) delay in diagnosing endometriosis.

Everyone has a day to think about: Not today

If we take painful periods seriously and don’t consider them “normal,” we can spot those underlying conditions more quickly. In this way, we prevent the woman from suffering monthly pain for years and having to bear the consequences of infertility later in life.

Discrimination in the labor market

Nor would menstruation leave benefit discrimination against women in the labor market, on the contrary.

Pregnancy is already a stumbling block for many employers in hiring women for certain jobs. If it turns out that women can also “pull out” every month because they have “that moment of the month”, then would they hire someone who doesn’t menstruate and doesn’t make it too difficult?

A 2017 study by the Institute for Gender Equality found that three-quarters of working women experienced some form of negative treatment or discrimination during pregnancy. 22 percent of pregnant female employees had to deal with direct discrimination (dismissal or refusal to promote), and 69 percent with indirect discrimination (bullying). The same research was done ten years ago. Since then, negative treatment and discrimination due to pregnancy have increased.

Those who can decide for themselves will get back to work faster

Only a handful of women file a complaint after being discriminated against due to pregnancy. Many do not dare or do not know their rights. Most complaints received by the IGVM regarding discrimination during pregnancy relate to access to the labor market (eg rejection of a pregnant female candidate while applying for a job, questioning about desire to have children during a job application or rejection of a candidate due to maternity) and termination of an employment contract after announcing pregnancy .

bad days

If we were to create a new leave system if needed, this might be the perfect time to give the “bad days” a chance. Anyone can use it. It doesn’t matter your gender and for any complaint you stay at home, you are simply entitled to it. Perhaps this will help us deal with the ever-increasing number of burnout cases.

That’s why I see more benefit in the concept of “bad days” rather than period leave. Everyone has a day to think about: Not today – whether it’s because of migraines, mental problems, or fatigue. Taking a bad day is different from taking a day off. An employer can still send an examining doctor. And if you’re not sick, it can’t be a bad day either.

It was recently decided that you can be absent from work for one day three times a year without having to file a sick note with your employer. This is indeed a step in the right direction, but there is room for improvement. GP Sophie Van Steenbergen, president of GP Jong Domus, goes further and advocates the abolition of sick notes for a few days. According to her, this will not lead to further absenteeism due to illness. In the Netherlands and Norway, there is no or very limited use of pathological observations. Since the system there is based on trust, you can even see a decrease in absenteeism due to illness in those countries. According to Van Steenbergen, pathological observation gives an unwarranted feeling that you are Permissible stay at home, and so will You also stay at home. She says those who can decide for themselves will get back to work faster.

just a system

Professor of Occupational Medicine Lode Godderis (KU Leuven) also regrets that the government’s latest decision is limited to one day of legal absence without satisfactory note. He would have preferred to see three to five days.

What if each employee got a limited number of package days per year? Ten days that you can use in a limited set – ie a maximum of three consecutive days. You can go home that day because of a cold, but also to work on your mental health or because you have menstrual cramps without an underlying cause. This way we don’t normalize the periods of pain anymore and give everyone the right to press the pause button. This is justice. This is the future I want to go to.

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