Japan has offered menstrual leave policies since 1947, and South Korea from 2001. In 2016, Italy joined them. That year, a not-for-profit in Melbourne adopted Australia's first paid period leave policy.
When it made this public last year, it inspired opinion pieces and memorable headlines like: "As a working woman in Australia I'm insulted by this crazy plan."
It was argued these policies may play into the prejudice that menstruation makes women unfit for work. It could be used to justify lower pay, or, as a female employee at the ABC told Hack, it could be a reason not to hire a woman.
There were similar concerns next door, at the UTS student canteen: "I think especially men in management positions wouldn't have sympathy for it and they'd be like 'Oh god we don't want women taking off extra time'," one person said.
40pc women take day off work or uni
But research shows a significant proportion of women suffer extreme and debilitating pain from their periods, and they are either taking days off to cope, or they are hiding the symptoms at work, which makes the experience worse.
This week, Western Sydney University researchers found 90 per cent of women had experienced period pain in the last three months, and 40 per cent had taken a day off work or uni because of this.
Many also said they hadn't taken a day off but were unable to concentrate and work as well as they could otherwise.
Isabella, one of the young woman who spoke to the researchers, told Hack. "I couldn't physically sit and concentrate and focus on what was happening in front of me because I would have this gnawing sensation around my pelvis."
"It's not in our heads, it's so physical it's drawing my attention all the time."Every week I was missing one or two full days [of lectures].Shot of a young woman clutching her stomach while lying on her bed in her bedroom.Getty
What happens when an organisation introduces paid period leave
The Melbourne NGO with Australia's only paid period leave policy is the Victoria Women's Trust - an organisation of 12 full-time workers plus volunteers.
Their workplace policy allows staff members experiencing mensturation and menopause symptoms to take a day off, work from home, or find a quiet spot in the office.
Twelve of these days off are available per year. Employees don't need to present a doctor's certificate or sign a statutory declaration.
"We kind of just go with an honesty policy," says Casimira Melican, Policy Officer at the Trust.
"I don't think we've had anyone who has used all of their 12 days."
Surveys show that about a fifth of women experience periods painful enough to interfere with daily activities. About a quarter say being able to ask for what they need from their employer would make their period a better experience.
Casimira told Hack the policy has "exceeded our expectations" and generally made the Trust offices a better place to work.
"We talk about periods really openly now, no-one needs to hide if they're walking to the bathroom with a tampon," she said.
"It's really built a lot of empathy and open communication."
"I've heard too many stories of women who have had to use up all of their sick leave just for menstrual symptoms or menopausal symptoms.
"I don't think that's what sick leave is for.It's for when you're sick with a cold rather than something that happens to you every month.Casimira said the policy had made employees more productive, as the mental and physical effort of hiding period symptoms was draining.Hot water bottle.Getty
"It can really lower your productivity and your ability to concentrate," she said.
Period pain like any other condition: Health Minister
Off the back of the Western Sydney University research, Hack asked federal Health Minister Greg Hunt if there was scope for extra sick leave for women who suffer from it, and from conditions like endometriosis - a debilitating and very painful disease.
He didn't dismiss the idea outright, but didn't support it either. He said women should feel they can can tell their employers or teachers they have debilitating period pain, and this should be recognised as a valid reason for taking sick leave.
"What we need to do is ensure that it is treated to the same level as any other condition which would force any person to miss time from school, to miss time from work," he said.
But Western Sydney University researcher Mike Armour said this approach was unfair and meant women were using up all their sick leave.
He said there was a "strong argument" for paid parental leave.
Isabella, who had to skip university because of period pain, said paid period leave shouldn't be seen of as a "crutch" to help women.
Here productivity arguments may help make the 'crazy plan' more appealing.
"It's necessary for us to perform at our best," Isabella said.