A public petition in May last year had said women should be able to take up to two days of leave per month if they are suffering from period pain. More than 4,800 people signed the document, triggering a debate in parliament.
But while lawmakers and the government didn’t agree on the measure during the exchange in October it sparked a conversation on how companies and schools could be more accommodating towards women suffering from severe dysmenorrhea.
“I’m thankful that this topic is being tackled,” said Nancy Kemp-Arendt (CSV), who oversees the petition commission, which met on Friday for a follow-up meeting with members of parliament and ministers. “All ministers are committed to implementing something in their field.”
The labour ministry said it would work on awareness-raising within businesses and advocate for flexible work arrangements, for example allowing remote work where this is possible or the option to recover hours missed because of period pain on other days.
Schools meanwhile should be equipped with free period products for girls under plans by the education ministry. These also include reviewing the sex education curriculum and possibly making it mandatory for boys and girls to learn more about periods.
If girls are written off sick for period-pain, the ministry is also reviewing whether this should be counted as sick leave in the pupils’ record or if another option can be found to excuse the students.
Equal opportunities minister Taina Bofferding (LSAP) is also interior minister and said she would be working with more communes to launch pilot projects. Walferdange and Luxembourg City recently began offering free period products in some of their public infrastructure.
The ball is with the ministries
The health ministry meanwhile said it would look at raising awareness for prevention of dysmenorrhea. For example, women who exercise regularly and have a healthy diet are less likely to suffer from pain, cramps and mood disturbances.
But the ministry also wants to work on raising more awareness about endometriosis, a painful disorder in which tissue similar to that normally lining the womb grows outside the uterus. During the menstrual cycle, this tissue becomes trapped, which can cause severe complications and fertility issues.
“Treatments are being reimbursed. But the problem is that women often don’t realise they have this illness and that it’s not always diagnosed by the doctor,” Kemp-Arendt said.
“The ball is with the ministries,” the MP said to sum up the meeting. The petition commission follows up on debates every two years to review what ministries have implemented in the wake of the public discussions.
Kemp-Arendt called the plans presented on Friday the “beginning of a national strategy” adding that she is thankful to the petitioners to have brought the issue into the public eye. “We all agreed that this topic would otherwise never have been debated in the chamber.”