We have all been there: Every 28 days our bodies take on an internal war. We are unable to focus, doubling over in pain, trying to pretend our insides aren’t, quite literally, falling out of our bodies. Womanhood: What a beautiful gift. And after years of pain and discomfort, most of us have learned to smile through the worst of it because the show must go on, but a Bristol company, Coexist, wants you to take a load off.
This UK-based company has introduced a “period leave” for their ladies – the first of its kind in the region. Coexist is a community interest firm which employs 31 people, 24 of them women. Bex Baxter, director of the company, told The Bristol Post, “As a manager of staff I have seen women really suffer with their periods and I have found them doubled over in a lot of pain. They feel guilty and ashamed for taking time off and often sit at their desks in silence not wanting to acknowledge it”.
Periods have been a source of shame for women of all ages since, well, the beginning of time. But there are a few heroes in our ranks who are here to say “enough is enough!” and Baxter is one of them. She is out to remove the taboo of periods and allow women to work inside the natural cycle of their bodies.
While many non-period having people (see: men) view menstruation as nothing to fuss about it, it can in fact be a debilitating condition for a large majority of women. Dysmenorrhea, the clinical name for painful periods, comes with symptoms ranging from stomach cramps and nausea to dizziness and memory loss. With symptoms like those, it is obvious that a women’s productivity may be shuttered during those few days of the month.
Baxter encourages her employees to get the rest they deserve during these less productive days, stating, “When women are having their periods they are in a winter state, when they need to regroup, keep warm and nourish their bodies. The spring section of the cycle, immediately after a period, is a time when women are actually three times as productive as usual.”
Though Coexist is the first UK company to offer an extra few days’ sick leave to women who chronically suffer the worst of what Aunt Flo has to offer, they follow several other countries which implement the same kind of policies.
In Japan, menstrual leave has been part of the working women’s world since 1947. Researcher Alice J. Dan notes that Japan’s policies symbolize “women’s emancipation… a way to speak openly about their bodies and gain social recognition for their role as workers.” China, South Korea, and Taiwan have similar policies regarding working women during their periods.
These policies are not only taking a step in the right direction for women in the workfield, but for company productivity in the long run. We can only hope to see more corporations jumping on the wagon and helping women overcome the shame and taboo of our monthly friend. Until then, grab your hot water bottle, king-sized chocolate bar and know that you are one badass working babe!
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