Marking the Annual Breastfeeding Week, the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF and other sstakeholders have clamour for change in workplace policy, saying that only 9 per cent of nigeria’s formal sector have workplace breastfeeding policy.
The stakeholders called for extention of the maternity leave from three months to six months and conducive environment in the workplace in order to encourage practice of exclusive breastfeeding among working mothers.
The UNICEF Chief of Kano Field Office, Mr. Rahama Farah while speaking during the stakeholders meeting with the theme: “Enabling breastfeeding environment for working partners”, stressed the need to create an environment where working parents are supported in their journey of nurturing their children while also pursuing their careers.
Farah represented by the Nutrition Manager, Elhadji Diop said, “Presently, the formal sector employs approximately one million women, while 95% of women work within the informal sector. Shockingly, only 9% of organizations have a workplace breastfeeding policy, with only 1.5% in the public sector. This has to change. We need to create an environment where working parents are supported in their journey of nurturing their children while also pursuing their careers.
“To do so and promote support in the workplace, UNICEF requests the Kano State Governmnet to extend paid maternity leave for government Employees from the current three months to six months, emphasizing the importance of breastfeeding.
“We equally requested that the government prioritize the needs of working parents through provision of lactation rooms/crèches in all Ministries, Departments and Agencies, and implement breastfeeding breaks and flexible work arrangements.
“We appeal that they reinforce messages on good nutrition and health during the first 1,000 days of life through various platforms, including media, public spaces, and workplaces.
“By taking these steps, workplaces can set a positive example for others to follow, ultimately leading to healthier and happier families,” Farah however stated.
Similarly, the State Team Lead, Alive and Thrives, Dr. Ashiru Hamza Muhammad said importance of breastfeeding cannot be overemphasized as it increases the immune, psychological and social development of the child.
“Exclusive breastfeeding within the first 1,000 days is the only investment you can make for a child to let him or her grow healthy and contribute his or her quota to the development of the country,” Dr. Muhammad said.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Kano State Commissioner of Health, Dr. Abubakar Labaran represented by the Director, Public Health, Dr. Rajab Ashiru said the best way to prevent malnutrition for children is through exclusive breastfeeding.
He added that exclusive breastfeeding provides the child with immune to fight any form of diseases such as diarrhea among others.