Menstruation Law in Zambia Triggers Strong Reactions

Fredrick Ngugi Jan 6, 2017 at 12:00pm

January 06, 2017 at 12:00 pm | Women

Fredrick Ngugi

Fredrick Ngugi | Contributor

January 06, 2017 at 12:00 pm | Women

Zambian school girls receive sanitary pads. Photo Credit: Ghafla

A new menstruation law in Zambia that allows women to take a day off every month during their period has sparked a heated debate on social media, with some people questioning its validity. Since it is a taboo to discuss female menstruation publicly in Zambia, the new law refers to the leave day as ‘Mother’s Day,’ despite the fact that it applies to all women, including those without children.

The new law doesn’t specify the precise date when women in Zambia should celebrate Mother’s Day, thus allowing female workers to take the day whenever they want without providing any medical proof.

The law also doesn’t require women to make prior arrangements for her leave, but instead, she can call in to say she’s taking the day off. It is an offense for any employer to deny their female workers this privilege.

Unexpected Interruptions

While the majority of Zambians seem content with the new labor law, some argue that it might have a negative effect on productivity, especially where female employees are likely to give short notices and disrupt the work schedule.

“Zambian women are just plain unproductive. On one hand, they say men and women should be treated as equals, while on the other hand they want special privileges. These are people you even appoint as commanders in the military wings; one wonders if the enemy attacks when they are on their period leave,” Bwalya Kabungo wrote on Facebook.

Some employees argue that the new law is likely to be abused by women who just want to take a day off without any justifiable reason. Others have questioned the need for white-collar female workers to enjoy this privilege while many housemaids and other women in the informal sector don’t.

“Some women are lucky and have easy monthly periods and others have very difficult ones. The objective of work places should be to ensure that women do not abuse this privilege because it is very useful for some women,” Mwema Kapika wrote on Facebook.

The Zambia Congress of Trade Unions, an independent body representing workers in Zambia, has expressed its support for the law, but warns that the entitlement would have to be forfeited if  many women use the law irresponsibly.

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