The social scene in Egypt witnessed several changes recently, and the ceiling of demands rose intensively to discuss controversial topics and subjects which society previously used to consider as taboo.
A few days ago, social media platforms shared news from a European news agency that Italy was considering giving women an official menstrual leave, and that the lower house of Italy’s parliament has started discussing a draft law that, if approved, will mandate companies to grant three days of paid leave each month to female employees who are experiencing painful period. This news piece took social media platforms by storm and the story went viral.
Although the news was over a year old, however, Egyptian females revived this piece of news, and requested from the Egyptian government and parliament to consider this demand.
Thus, Daily News Egypt investigated the possibility of applying this law, not from a political side but rather from a social one, and discussed with women if they will use or demand this paid leave during their periods or not, as well as interviewed female obstetricians to learn to what extent the monthly period can affect female work productivity.
For her part, obstetrician Hamdia Ahmed, informed DNE that many women suffer during their monthly periods from premenstrual syndrome known as PMS, which are a group of symptoms linked to the menstrual cycle.
She elaborated that some females always believe that the meaning of PMS are only mood swings, however scientifically it includes many symptoms but the most common symptom is the mood swing.
Ahmed explained that among the symptoms of the PMS are breast swelling and tenderness, fatigue, some digestive discomfort, a change in eating habits, as well as cramps.
Some females also suffer from headaches, meanwhile most women suffer from abdominal and pelvic cramps, in addition to lower back pain.
She noted that all these symptoms affect women’s brains, making them unable to properly work.
“Scientific research has shown that menstrual pain may be equal to a heart attack, thus it is time to stop normalising menstrual pain. We should always be more compassionate when women complain or share the severity of their menstrual pain,” she asserted.
Disagreeing with the doctor, Hala Ali, who works as a journalist in a social media company, stated that periods are a taboo subject, and discussing cramps with a man can be embarrassing for some.
She continued that this excuse can lead to getting sexually harassed from your director, as you are the one who began discussing with him “sexual problems.”
Ali thinks that it is better to develop an overall leave policy for men and women to take time off for a host of reasons including, chronic medical conditions.
Agreeing with the doctor, Nour Saad, who works in a bank, said that every month she suffers tremendously during her period to the extent that she needs take an injection as soon as she gets her period.
“Every month I suffer a lot at work, and excuse myself from my male director to leave, while he always asks me “Why? How do you feel?” she said.
“Then after he refuses my excuse that I am tired, it leads to me making some mistakes in my work,” she continued sadly.
“I think that I am not a unique case and that many women suffer like me during their monthly periods or maybe they suffer even more, thus the government must consider our demand, especially that the government now has 12 women lead-ministries,” she asserted.
As for Karima Selim, a writer and a woman’s advocate, she stated that this demand is a legitimate right for women, and that it is implemented in many countries including Zambia, Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and the Philippines.
She continued that the females who think or perceive the topic of menstruation as a taboo subject are victims of erroneous social norms, elaborating that their families raised them with the concept that a period is a social stigma.
“Instead we need to raise our children on the concept that we are biologically different, and we need to acknowledge that, rather than giving them pads without talking with them or even telling them how to adjust to the new changes that happening to them at that age,” she continued.
Notably, this outlandish debate is taking place not only in Egypt but across the whole world, for example Japan has offered a menstrual leave policies since 1947, when a law was passed allowing any woman with a painful period or whose job might exacerbate her period pain to take time off. However in 1986, a policy study revealed that the number of women using it declined from 20% in 1960, to 13% in 1981, largely because of the societal pressures that women faced after its application.
“Woman should overthrow all societal pressures, they also must not to give up their demand to take days off during their periods,” she remarked.