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  • Justice for My Jewel

Is there a such thing as a period-friendly workplace?

It goes without saying that women deal with a lot of symptoms when they’re on their periods. For some women, these symptoms can interrupt the flow of their everyday tasks, like working. Imagine going into your place of work as a woman and putting on a badge that lets others know when you’re menstruating every month. For some women in Osaka Umeda, Japan, this is not a hypothetical scenario. A Japanese department store, Daimaru’s, implemented a staff regulation in October of this year that was intended to “help” female workers, but only faced backlash when people got word of it. What kind of work environment do you think this would create for these women, something positive or negative?

The badges are stated as being a “voluntary” option for the women that work in the women’s wardrobe section of the department store. The badge features a Japanese manga character, Sieri Chan. Sieri Chan is an anthropomorphic depiction of a woman’s period. The intended purpose of the badges were to help foster sympathy for women on their periods by encouraging “longer breaks and assistance for certain tasks.” While the intentions for the badge may have been genuine, support and sympathy for these women could easily turn into ridicule due to there still being people that still hold onto the stigmas and taboos surrounding menstruation.

Women could end up being harassed, instead of helped by those surrounding them. This department store situation raises the question: is there a such thing as a period-friendly workplace? A period-friendly workplace can be considered as one that is understanding and accommodating to women and their needs during their periods every month. When we discuss menstrual equity, the workplace must be included in this conversation. “It is not the physical implications of the menstrual cycle that we need to take into account; it is also about our cultural and societal stigma around menstruation.”

According to a study, menstrual pain is experienced by 84.1% of women, with 20% of them reporting that this pain interferes with work. However, the majority of women will go without asking for time off due to the lack of understanding and sympathy from their male colleagues and/or bosses. Just as people are able to take sick days, women on their periods should be given the same level of respect and sympathy as someone who could not come to work because they are ill. Some women suffer more than others every month.

What are some things that would be needed to create a positive and helpful work environment for women while on their periods? Giving women access to the proper facilities, access to sanitary products and access to receive time off as needed! Women are not just being overly sensitive or hormonal when they talk about how much they suffer while menstruating. It can affect their daily lives, which includes working. Though the department store didn’t fully execute their new regulation, the intentions were to create a positive and helpful workplace for women. That should be the aim for everyone!

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