Our lives are stressful enough, but when it’s that time of the month for women, it can sometimes seem overwhelming. While not every woman has rough experiences with their periods each month, others have a whole slew of mental and physical symptoms, making everything seem harder and more tiring.
From pain, exhaustion and mental confusion to (my personal least favorite) anxiety, just living life can be challenging for those lovely few days a month—not to mention having to go to work when all of this is happening. In general, employers give women the same amount of sick days as men (for those that do get sick days, that is), yet most definitely have more days when they actually feel unwell.
If that doesn’t seem quite right to you, you’re not alone. The entire country of Zambia agrees.
Thanks to a new labor law, women in Zambia now have the right to take off one day a month when their period symptoms are telling them to stay in bed and rest. Employers who deny women the right to their “Mother’s Day” (as it is called there because discussing periods is taboo) can face legal action.
This day is intended just for women who are ill, though they do not need a doctor’s note and are free to take the day when they wish. That has raised some concerns in the country and can lead to the firing of anyone violating the law.
“You shouldn’t even leave town, be found doing your hair or shopping. You can be fired,” Zambia’s labor minister, Joyne Nonde-Simukoko, told the BBC. “For example, somebody was found farming after taking Mother’s Day and she was fired.”
It is quite rare for a county to allow leave for a woman’s period, but it is not entirely unheard of. A Chinese province grants women two days of “period leave” each month. Japan introduced a similar law in 1947 and similar legal provisions can be found in South Korea and Taiwan.
An interesting point: While it seems like some countries may be trying to help women more, others aren’t so kind when it comes to menstrual cycles. Women in parts of India are sent away, whether they want to be or not, to huts outside of their villages when they are menstruating. Women are generally left alone while in the huts because they are considered impure and cannot touch others. They are not even allowed in the kitchen to cook.
The idea of time off for a period is, like everything, sparking debate. Some say it will affect business and encourage laziness. Those in favor say it’s fair and that women do a lot of multitasking and deserve a day off.
“Mother’s Day” was informally observed in Zambia since the 1990s, but just recently became law.