For the first time in France, a Paris suburb offers paid menstruation leave

In an effort to “break a taboo” on the topic and spur similar actions at the national level, the town of Saint-Ouen, which is located on the outskirts of Paris to the north, has become the first municipality in France to offer paid medical leave to female employees who are experiencing period pain.

The plan, which went into effect on March 27, enables the city’s 1,200 female employees to take up to two days off every month without losing pay, subject to a doctor’s approval.

It happens a month after Spain’s left-wing government, in a first for a European nation, passed ground-breaking laws guaranteeing equal rights to women across the board.

On March 8, International Women’s Day, the socialist mayor of Saint-Ouen Karim Bouamrane first announced the action, stating he intended to motivate French legislators to follow suit.

The mayor stated on France Info radio on Monday that “we must put an end to this suffering in quiet, and indeed this denial of misery,” stressing that up to one in every two women endured severe and occasionally incapacitating periods.

The goal is to erase the taboo surrounding the matter and ensure that women who experience painful periods do not feel stigmatized, he continued.

Women will be given the option to choose between taking time off and working from home under the new regulations in Saint-Ouen, a municipality in the Seine-Saint-Denis département (county), northeast of Paris.

Women’s health at work has long been a focus of feminist organizations, but the issue of paid menstruation leave has caused controversy because of worries that it might make it more difficult for women to find employment.

Ophélie Latil of the feminist organization Georgette Sand told the French newspaper Le Monde that the proposal is “a half-measure that hides the need for a more comprehensive response to women’s health at work.” She claimed that sending women home “just isolates them and hides their misery.”

Paid menstrual leave proponents contend, however, that it will promote discussion of the issue and aid in spreading awareness of ailments like endometriosis, a crippling condition that results in persistently painful periods and, in some cases, infertility.

Democratize the debate’ Last week, over 20 Seine-Saint-Denis city council members signed a letter urging the expansion of Saint-innovative Ouen’s program to other communities, according to Le Monde.

The letter stated that “opening debate on paid menstrual leave will help democratize the subject (and) facilitate endometriosis diagnosis.”

Smaller municipalities that cannot afford paid menstrual leave without outside assistance have been asked by Saint-Bouamrane Ouen’s to work on a “complete framework guaranteeing legal and financial protection.”

The public social security system, not the employers, is responsible for covering the cost of sick leave under the menstrual leave program that the Spanish government implemented last month.

Only a handful of nations, including Japan, Indonesia, and Zambia, provide paid menstrual leave other than Spain.

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