25 May 2023 – Women represent nearly half of the global labor market and on any given day over 800 million people worldwide are menstruating. However, studies show that 96% of women who start their period unexpectedly in public leave to buy period products, 4 out of 10 people who menstruate have called in sick due to periods, over 80% of women experience a loss of productivity while at work for multiple days each cycle and on average women lose 9 days of work a year due to menstruation. This is a lot of missed time at work for nearly half the global labor market.
The Period Positive Workplace (PPW) initiative arose to address this. A global coalition has been formed with Days for Girls, PSI Europe, The Policy Project, The Pad Project, Share the Dignity, and the Toilet Board Coalition to advance menstrual equity in the workplace.
There has been some engagement from the private sector already and we want to build on this momentum to ensure more people who menstruate have a safe working environment. As Odette Hekster, Managing Director of Population Services International (PSI)-Europe explains, “It is time for employers to recognize the importance of menstrual health and take concrete steps to promote menstrual equity in the workplace.”
Research shows that workplaces that provide period products report reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, and higher collaboration from employees who menstruate, with companies that provide menstrual leave seeing an increase in attraction, retention, and productivity. Global studies also show companies that invest in menstrual health management see benefits worth more than double the cost because of decreased absenteeism and higher retention.
“Many workplaces have become accustomed to providing toilet paper, hand soap, and in some cases a dryer or paper towels for their employees and patrons,” Emily Bell McCormick, president of The Policy Project said. “Half of the world’s population experiences periods, an involuntary and spontaneous ‘bathroom need’ that requires specific products to manage.
Our coalition is excited to help correct a global oversight in product provision and ensure that period products become regularly available in all workplace bathrooms.”
Alison Rogers, the Founder of Blush Cowork in Cary, North Carolina, USA is already a Period Positive Workplace, and shared, “I provide period products in my office because no one can be productive or creative if their basic human needs aren’t met. This is an incredibly easy way for us to support our community and prevent it from becoming an obstacle to work.”
The Period Positive Workplace initiative plays a crucial role in helping businesses demonstrate their commitment to gender equality. Businesses who join this initiative take tangible steps towards breaking the stigma surrounding periods and promoting menstrual equity in the workplace.
“Period products belong in every washroom. Period,” said Kevin Hiebert at Changing the Flow in Canada. It is past time we make that happen, and campaigns like Period Positive Workplace help normalize the discussion and make it easier for more people to get involved.” Period Positive Workplace is helping workplaces create gender equitable spaces. As Diana Nelson, the Global Advocacy Director for Days for Girls, explains, “Shifting the negative societal attitude towards periods is crucial, and workplaces can play a significant role in this transformation. By providing access to menstrual products and education about menstrual health, we can help remove the negative stereotypes and foster an environment that is supportive and inclusive for all employees.”
Your workplace can join this global initiative to become Period Positive by:
- Provide period products in or near bathrooms (products can be free, subsidized, or for
- Meet WHO’s Global Water, Sanitation & Hygiene standards
- Record in your employee handbook, benefits plan, or company policies that period
products will be available for employees
- Head to www.periodpositiveworkplace.org and fill out the request certification form
- You will be sent a Period Positive Workplace Partner Package with toolkits for your
workplace to use
By following these steps, companies can foster more inclusive and gender equitable workplaces. AIRAC Credit Unions in the Dominican Republic, is one of these companies. Jose Alejandro Rodriguez Soto, the Executive Director, has caught the vision noting, “…how grateful we are to be leaders in Latin America with the Period Positive Workplace initiative. Thank you for creating something that is truly inclusive.”
Join businesses around the world to break the stigma surrounding periods and create more inclusive and gender-equitable workplaces.