Mumbai-based company Culture Machine hit the headlines recently by offering female employees the opportunity to take the first day of their periods off.
As many as 91% of women say they have ever had period pains, and among those women who have had period pains and have worked, most (57%) say that period pains have affected their ability to work.
Yet only around a quarter (27%) of women whose performance has been affected by period pain have ever admitted to their employer that this was the case. Three in ten (31%) told their employer that troubles caused by period pain were down to some other reason, while 33% said neither of these (a large proportion of this group may well not let on about feeling unwell to their employer in the first place).
In what ways do women find it harder to work because of period pains?
Just over a third (35%) find that period pain affects their ability to work by making it harder to concentrate. Around one in five (19%) have had to take a short break because of the pain, and one in three (35%) have either had to go home early (17%) or take a day off (18%) because of the pain.
Society has been slow to recognise that period pain can be a significant issue for working women, although attitudes do seem to be changing. Aside from the actions of Culture Machine, countries including South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia and Japan have laws in place allowing women time off work when they are menstruating (although Taiwan's three days off a year for menstrual cramps is the most generous). Similar policies have also been proposed by lawmakers in Italy and Russia.