May 1, 2023 (10:51 PM)

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The Menstruation Leave Act was submitted to Congress to grant women two days of paid leave per month during their monthly periods. It was, however, considered economically inconvenient by the opposition, including former Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson. Despite women ‘seemingly’ doing well without this measure, it still does not rub out the plight of women and their right to acquire benefits for these circumstances.

Congresswoman Samantha Taliño Santos cited in the bill’s explanatory note that, “In a research by the British United Provident Association Limited, it was revealed that 23% of women have taken time off work because of their period in the last 6 months, with a following 36 percent not telling the truth why they were unable to work.” 

This data proves a point that the conversation on menstrual leaves, or even menstruation in general, has been considered taboo, especially in the Philippines. When talking about menstruation, the usual thought would be that it is part of the natural biological process of women, as well as the hormonal and physiological burdens that come with it. The sad reality is even if women complain about how much it disrupts their natural flow of activities, it will be subdued to an inherent pain that women are born with. 

As opposed to the agony women experience in their periods, the opposition sees this initiative as “too much” despite the relative success of Spain, South Korea, and Indonesia in upholding their menstrual leave acts. With the status quo revolving in a capitalist society, let alone a developing state like the Philippines, productivity holds the utmost importance. 

Former Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson stated that, “an additional 24 days a year of leave with pay on top of the 105 days of maternity leave, 7 days of paternity leave, 5 days of sick leave, including the 13-18 days of vacation leave every year (convertible to cash if unused)” could lead to layoffs and closure of companies. Furthermore, the Employers Confederation of the Philippines rejected the bill with President Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. stating that it would be burdensome for micro and small businesses. The opposition essentially implies that at this point, assuming that the bill will be passed into law, it will be a disadvantage to hire women.

However, menstrual pain occurs monthly, making the sick leave insufficient for their concerns. The sick leaves that cover these concerns can only provide employees with five days of paid sick leave every year, according to the Labor Code of the Philippines. Women’s productivity has been long jeopardized by these concerns but is left untackled without consideration of the immense and long-standing threat it will produce to women’s health. So far, we have yet to see a solution and rebuttal that focuses on the conditions of women as the responses have prioritized the economic factors.

Thus, it is crucial to see this issue through the lens of women, rather than the economy as a case in isolation or even men. This case is considered “too much” because society circulates on a patriarchal system that equality for women can immediately imply less equality for others. Equality is not exactly a pie, where one takes more, and the other takes less. This measure is more a matter of equity, where women are given privileges because of their circumstances. In hindsight, it is not our choice, to begin with, that we must suffer with these period pains and even more.

Fundamentally, we have to remember that while the economic concerns are valid in consideration of the economic climate of the country, the plight of women in dealing with the effects of menstruation will always be there. Even if the government shrugs it off in the name of economic stability, the data presented by Congresswoman Santos will remain relevant and a cause of concern, enough to be part of the dialogue on women’s rights. In fact, Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr has also advocated a similar period of leave, as well as the Gabriela Women’s Party. These initiatives are just some of the more to come as the fight for women’s rights in the Philippines continues, even beyond the forms of championing menstrual leave.

This article was published in the April 2023 Issue of Atenews. Read it here: https://issuu.com/atenews/docs/atenews_2023_tabloid


About Heart Haezel Gacayan - Oasis

Traversing in a world full of ambiguity, Heart seeks refuge in writing in hopes of capturing a newfound hope or what she calls "oasis." Despite having a hectic mind from majoring in international studies, she's thirsty to go beyond her imagination and find the things worth living for.




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