Home News UNICEF advocates 6 months maternity leave for nursing mothers

UNICEF advocates 6 months maternity leave for nursing mothers

by Haruna Gimba
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By Asmau Ahmad

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has advocated for six months of paid maternity leave for nursing mothers under the employ of the state governments in Nigeria.

The appeal was made during an event to highlight the benefits of the 2023 World Breastfeeding Week and it was organised by UNICEF in collaboration with Katsina State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (KSPHCDA).

This year’s World Breastfeeding Week is themed, ‘Enabling breastfeeding-making a difference for working parents.’

The UNICEF Chief, Kano Field Office, Mr Rahama Farah, who was represented by the UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, Mr Oluniyi Oyedokun, made the appeal and described breastfeeding as a necessary and crucial act for the health and well-being of children and mothers.

He explained that the implementation of the six-month maternity leave would enable working parents to raise healthy and happy children in the state.

Farah also appealed to the government to prioritise the needs of working parents by providing lactation rooms in all ministries, departments and agencies, and implementing breastfeeding breaks for them.

He stressed that supporting working parents through the promotion of breastfeeding-friendly policies will improve employer-employee relations, loyalty, higher job productivity and a positive impact on gender equality and work-life balance.

He, therefore, urged the government to provide adequate resources for the prevention of malnutrition through promotion, protection and support for Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition.

“UNICEF requests the Katsina State Government to extend paid maternity leave for government employees from the current three months to six months. This emphasises the importance of breastfeeding,” he said.

Earlier, the wife of the state governor, Zulaihat Radda, advocated four months of maternity leave for nursing mothers on the payroll of the state government.

She said ministries, departments and agencies of the state government should pay for maternity leave to support and sustain nursing mothers while on leave to ensure exclusive breastfeeding.

“All mothers should be supported to initiate breastfeeding after birth, especially within the first hour after delivery, with complementary foods for up to two years or beyond,” she said.

The governor’s wife charged the government, community and religious leaders to include women in system transformation in order to ensure breastfeeding-friendly communities and workplaces.

She vowed to use her pet project, ‘Safe Space Humanitarian Initiative’, to champion children’s health and create a better future for them.

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