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The holiday, known as “Mother’s Day,” purportedly gives women one day off from work per month to deal with the menstruation process, if necessary. However, the legal definition of the holiday is not precise, and as a result, women can take the day off when they want to without providing any medical justification. Because of this ambiguity, some women have criticized the law.
Women have been warned, even by female Labour Minister Joyce Nonde-Simukoko, that if they are found to be in a “disco-house,” it will not be taken as Mother’s Day and dismissal may be a consequence. However, the law does not actually explicitly cover any of those scenarios.
Despite being surrounded by violent conflicts, Zambia has managed to earn itself a reputation for political stability and has experienced rapid economic growth in the last decade. Despite this, two-thirds of the population live in poverty, and the country is now facing an energy crisis.
The new labor laws can largely be seen as progressive, especially in a country in which discussing menstruation is taboo. An employer can face legal action if they deny a woman her “Mother’s Day” leave.
These kinds of laws are rare in the African region (and virtually non-existent in the West), but have been documented in three Chinese provinces. Japan introduced similar legislation in 1947, and Indonesia, South Korea, and Taiwan all have similar provisions.
According to the Jakarta Globe, women would be examined before they would be allowed to take leave, making the law virtually redundant as this element discourages many women from taking their leave in the first place.
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