A narrative inquiry into women's experiences of menstruation at the workplace in Namibia
Accepted: 8 March 2023
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Background. Menstruation’s effects on workplace productivity and its impact on women’s careers are rarely discussed in public discourse. This paper presents an analysis of thirteen women’s accounts of their menstrual experiences at work. Objectives. The study aimed to understand women’s lived experiences of menstruation in the workplace in Namibia and to make recommendations for best practices and policy formulation to help female employees cope with menstruation at work in Namibia. Materials and Methods. The study adopted a qualitative, phenomenological narrative inquiry research design, and thirteen participants working in various institutions and companies in Namibia were selected through a snowball sampling procedure. Individuals who agreed to participate in the study were given a link to a Google document containing reflective questions. Results. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the narratives. The study findings show that most participants experienced various menstrual-related symptoms ranging from unbearable physical pain or discomfort to heavy bleeding and psychological distress. Menstruating women face workplace challenges, such as a lack of emergency sanitary products and unsupportive superiors. Conclusions. Based on the narratives analyzed, we conclude that menstrual-related symptoms affect work productivity. Participants highlighted that they perform better and are considerably more productive on their non-menstrual days. Participants advocated for a shift in policy to allow flexibility to work from home or get menstrual leave when experiencing severe menstrual symptoms. Such a change will go a long way in making the workplace more accommodating to women.
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