Zambian Women are being offered the chance to have one day off a month, when the –ahem – time of the month occurs.
The day off is being called ‘Mother’s Day’, despite applying to all women, regardless of whether they have children or not.
Women can take the day off when they want to and do not need to provide medical proof or justification. Women do not have to make prior appointments to take the time off either.
Women suffering from intense menstrual symptoms can simply ring on the day they plan to take their ‘Mother’s Day’.
News of the female provision has been subject of intense debate in Zambia and beyond.
Some women, such as Ndekela Mazimba supports ‘Mother’s Day’ and takes it every month to deal with severe period pains.
“You might find that on the first day of your menses, you’ll have stomach cramps – really bad stomach cramps. You can take whatever painkillers but end up in bed the whole day”.
Ms Mazimba’s boss, Justin Mukosa, supports the law and says he understands the pressure women face in juggling careers and family responsibilities. Any employers who deny women this entitlement may face prosecution.
“Productivity is not only about the person being in the office. It should basically hinge on the output of that person”, Mukosa states.
However, the female provision is not shy from faults. Losing staff at short notice and the temptation take personal days when not needed are just some of the problems with the current system.
Others argue that the day can encourage laziness amongst working women, especially as there is no way of proving menstruation to employers.
Since the law is not explicit, it is unclear whether women can venture outside their homes when taking Mothers Day. Leaving town or going shopping may sometimes constitute as sackable offenses.