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Should women be entitled to period leave? These countries think so

November 21, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Sachimi Mochizuki has worked in Japan for two decades, but she's never taken a day off for her period.

Japan's period leave entitlement has existed for more than 70 years, and the country isn't alone in Asia in having such a policy.

And even in countries that do have period leave, feminists are split on whether period leave is a step back or a sign of progress when it comes to women's rights.

Japan introduced its period leave policy in 1947 to address labor rights concerns.

Although all companies in Japan have to give women period leave when they request it, they are not required to pay.

"I thought, 'Why?' and, 'How can you do that, how can you tell your boss?'" Instead, she thinks more general sick leave would work better than menstruation leave for helping women with particularly difficult periods.

"If you tell people you're taking leave because of your period, that will be seen as you're not as good as men," she said.

According to University of Sydney professor Elizabeth Hill, who researches gender and employment, the reason period leave is so hotly contested even among feminists is because there is little data on whether period leave helps or hinders women in the workplace.

Giving women a day off for their period is a stupid idea. " The article argued that period leave is a "paternalistic and silly" proposal that "reaffirms that there is a biological determinism to the lives of women. "

And after the Victorian Women's Trust, an Australian advocacy group for women's rights, introduced a menstruation leave policy for its staff in 2017, Brisbane newspaper The Courier-Mail ran an opinion piece with the headline: "As a working woman in Australia I'm insulted by this crazy plan. "

Others advocate for increasing sick leave to include period leave, although critics argue that women aren't sick when they have their period — they are just experiencing a normal, biological process.

At the Victorian Women's Trust, executive director Mary Crooks said the benefits of period leave have been "absolutely palpable" for her office which has 13 female staff members.

In the four years since it was introduced, staff have only taken 21 paid period leave days between them, Crooks said.

Part of the reason women aren't taking period leave, according to the OECD's Murakami, is that the culture around leave and menstruation makes women fear that taking it could lead to discrimination by their employers.

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