The anatomy and physiology of a human being – male and female, has a huge biological difference. One of which is the women’s menstrual cycle. Menstruation, in medical definition, is when the lining of the uterus (endometrium) sheds off every month when no implantation of fertilized egg occurs; that means, pregnancy won’t happen. This then results in a woman’s monthly menstrual flow composed of blood and mucus from the vagina and cervix.

Dysmenorrhea or menstrual cramps can happen during menstruation to some women. More than half of women who menstruate experience dysmenorrhea for one to two days each month. However, the pain varies among women – some may not feel it, but for those who do, it can be intolerable to the point that it affects our daily living.

Women advocates had been emphasizing a thoughtful consideration to women who undergo this monthly physiological cycle. On March 22, 2023, Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas filed House Bill 7758, “The Menstrual Leave Act,” granting a menstrual leave of a maximum of two days per month with 100% daily remuneration to all female employees in the private and public sectors, except pregnant and menopausal women.

Menstrual manifestations are not something to be ignored. As a woman myself, who personally struggles with heavy and unbearable menstrual cramps every month, I fully support the proposed bill on the Menstrual Leave Act. Not only do I speak for myself but on behalf of all the women who experience the common symptoms of dysmenorrhea which includes: diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, hip and back pain, headache, and pain in the lower abdomen. Some may even experience dizziness and fainting. These symptoms can alter the will, focus, and efficiency of female employees to certain tasks at work, giving more justifications as to why its very needed today.

However, a few eyebrows have been raised regarding this bill. Contradicting its proposed terms, issues on discriminatory hiring processes for women and workplace misogyny are expected to eventually rise and happen the moment this is stamped within our constitution. The public were also amongst the fastest to react in lengthy social media threads along with a few lawmakers interpreting it as a discriminating bill that only favors women alone.

But what is exactly wrong with prioritising our reproductive health needs?

If only all people knew and understood better the physiological processes of our own bodies, along with the struggle women face when experiencing the symptoms of this naturally occurring physiological change—that even us women do not have the choice in the first place but to always undergo with every month; then maybe and without a doubt, there would never be a dilemma regarding this proposed bill in the first place—or maybe it would have never needed to exist at all.

Lawmakers, most of which are men, do not only lack the biology and physiology of womanhood but also do not relate to the struggles that come with it. Their egos are bigger than their sympathy. It’s bad enough that they don’t know, but it’s even worse if they do.

Do we still have to wait for women to suffer in excruciating pains before it is validated as a real-time medical disturbance? Or has the time finally shifted its gear towards heeding to medical experts armed with necessary information for a very much needed discussion on menstrual leave to be granted as one of our protecting laws for women?

What is wrong with the Menstrual Leave Act is not the fact that it is a paid leave, as deliberately pointed out by a politician. What is wrong with it are the men acting like this is an inconvenience to them.

It must have been so convenient to be a man in a world where they wake up everyday knowing that it’s just another day: no pain from your bodily organ literally peeling itself off, no blood shedding as a result of it. In a country constantly lauded for its gender parity advances, the hurdling of this bill is a thousand steps backwards.

Gone are the days where periods and menstrual cramps are only seen as a taboo subject that girls could only care for. The Menstrual Leave Act will not only allow the 40% of women that are part of our country's labor force, to tend to these physiological changes but also help in maximizing their full potential at work— instead of this phenomenon becoming a hindrance to them. This law should be rightfully granted with no reservations to us, and it would be a relief to have a government that is sensitive enough to acknowledge and recognize the reality of our bodies at work and how to support it for a better work productivity and quality.

With contributions from Xavier John D. Villaruel 

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