The policy proposed would include one day of menstrual leave per month, for anyone who menstruates
BY NADIA DAVIES, IMAGE VIA INSTAGRAM
A new campaign has been launched which is asking the UK government to adopt a Genderless Menstrual Leave policy. The Genderless Menstrual Leave UK campaign, set up and run by queer activist Méfiré Diallo, asks for one day of leave per month – 12 days per year in total – for anyone who menstruates, regardless of their gender.
Many people who menstruate – including sufferers of conditions such as dysmenorrhea, endometriosis and ovarian cysts – experience symptoms such as severe pain, headaches, mental and physical exhaustion, and an inability to concentrate, making it very hard for them to be productive – but they are still required to put in a full day at work. The only alternative would mean taking a sick day or using precious annual leave.
Genderless Menstrual Leave UK’s proposal would see a minimum of 12 extra days added to workers’ sick leave balance, on an opt in/opt out basis. Diallo is adamant that the government understands the importance of providing the leave on a genderless basis, in order for trans and non-binary people who menstruate to also benefit. To reduce the risk of gender-based discrimination at work, the campaign’s proposal suggests that only employees can disclose the nature of the leave, and only at their discretion. They also suggest a disclaimer which would be signed at the opt in stage, which would prevent trans and non-binary people being outed at work and would ensure anonymity.
Diallo aims for the campaign to break the stigma around menstruation, a topic which many people still find shameful or taboo, especially in the workplace. “Having your period is not like being on holiday. Being on my period can be emotionally and physically draining. Genderless Menstrual Leave would allow people who menstruate a moment of self-care, a moment to breathe,” she says.
Genderless Menstrual Leave UK’s campaign is rapidly gaining traction, with a change.org petition gaining 183 signatures in just one week. Model and activist Rain Dove has lent their support, going live on Instagram with Diallo to discuss the campaign’s proposal. The campaign is focussed on gaining more support, with Diallo asking people to “Go on the Instagram page, talk about this amongst your friends and family, use #GenderlessMenstrualLeaveUK, please sign the petition. Together we can do this!”
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