‘Sobrang need’: Filipino women rejoice over ‘menstrual leave’ bill

March 22, 2023 - 6:41 PM
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In this Feb. 14, 2018 photo, St. Scholastica's College students dance in unison during the "One Billion Rising" global movement as part of their advocacy against all forms of discrimination and violence against women and children (The STAR / Michael de Guzman)

Filipina women welcomed the bill that seeks to grant all female employees in the private and public sectors menstrual leave of a maximum of two days per month with 100% daily remuneration.

The Menstrual Leave Act was filed by Rep. Arlene Brosas (Gabriela Women’s Party) on Wednesday, March 22. 

“There is a need to provide women with the flexibility and support they need to manage their reproductive health without the fear of negative consequences such as losing pay, falling behind in work, or facing disciplinary action,” she said. 

The women’s rights advocate also called for the immediate passage of the bill. 

Citing a report from the National Library of Medicine, the lawmaker said that 45% to 95% of menstruating women suffer from primary dysmenorrhea or painful menstruation. 

There is also a link between poor productivity and menstruation-related symptoms, as cited in the study published in British Medical Journal

“Menstruation-related symptoms cause a great deal of lost productivity, and presenteeism is a bigger contributor to this than absenteeism,” the research reads. 

The lawmaker also cited the efforts of some local governments to push for ordinances that acknowledge the painful and uncomfortable symptoms of menstruation and recognizes its impact on women’s productivity. 

In October last year, La Union Gov. Raphaelle Veronica Ortega-David signed an executive order that allows female government employees to work from home for two days every month during their period.  

RELATED: Filipino women cheer La Union’s ‘menstruation privilege’ for gov’t workers

The local government of Tangalan town in Aklan also has a similar ordinance passed in December 2022. 

“As many local government units in the Philippines lead the implementation of such pro-women legislation, the national government must also pass a law to institutionalize menstrual leave with 100% daily remuneration to all female employees in the private and public sectors,” Brosas said. 

The bill also has a provision that protects women employees from discrimination.

Section 9 of the bill states that “no employer whether in the public or private sector shall discriminate against the employment of women in order to avoid the benefits provided for in this Act.”

How social media users reacted

Filipinos, especially women, have expressed their support for the bill. 

“For someone who always have menstrual cramps very needed talaga ‘to. Sana naman maipasa bago tayo mapunta sa menopausal stage ano ng ma-avail kahit papaano,” a Twitter user said

“For women with dysmenorrhea, this is very much needed. Hope this will be approved,” a social media user said

“Sobrang need! Kahit 1 day ok lang,” an online user wrote

“Kailangang-kailangan ko ‘to dahil sa lala ng headache ko pag may period ako,” a Facebook user commented

“Men will never understand the discomfort of having a menstrual period,” a social media user said

“This is actually good for those women na super mag dysmenorhea. Pero sana wag i-abuse. Like gagawing dahilan na lang para maexcuse sa work,” an online user commented

Other countries such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia and Spain also have a law that grants women menstrual leave. 

In January, a bill that seeks to provide free menstrual products to students in public schools and public health centers was also filed before the House of Representatives.