*Stakeholders advocate flexible work place policy for breastfeeding mothers*

Stakeholders at a forum to mark this year’s World Breastfeeding week in Katsina State want government and other employers of labour to implement a flexible workplace breastfeeding policy to ease the hardships faced by working-class nursing mothers in the country.

The forum was organized by the Katsina State Primary Healthcare Development Agency in collaboration with the United Nation’s Childrens Education Fund, UNICEF.

In his speech, the representative of the Head of Kano Field Office of UNICEF, Mr. Niyi Oyedokun, noted that the current provisions in the civil service rules in most states are not convenient for nursing mothers.

He called for the amendment of public service provisions and the terms of service in private organizations, to adopt breastfeeding-friendly policies to enable nursing mothers to cope with the responsibility of breastfeeding their infants.

“At present, the formal sector in Nigeria employs approximate one million women, 95 percent of them work within the informal sector, but shockingly, only 9 percent of organizations have a work place breastfeeding policy with only 1.5 percent in the public sector.

“This has to change, we need to create an environment where working mothers are supported in the journey of nurturing their children while also pursuing their careers”, Oyedokun said.

The representative of civil society organizations, Malam Bello Bello, observed that more than half a million working class nursing mothers in the country are not enjoying basic maternity provisions that are operational in other parts of the world.

He called on the legislature at federal and state levels to make laws that will guarantee favourable working conditions for nursing mothers particularly in the private sector.

In a speech, Wife of Katsina State Governor, Hajiya Zulaiha Dikko Radda urged government and private organizations to grant nursing mothers at least six months’ leave to enable them provide the required nutrition for their infants.

The Katsina State Commissioner of Health who was represented by the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr. Tijjani Hamza, expressed the state government’s commitment to work with international donor partners, the civil society and the State House of Assembly to implement more breastfeeding-friendly policies for nursing mothers in the state.

The forum brought together representatives of various health-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international donor agencies and policy makers to discuss ways to improve the working conditions and welfare of breastfeeding mothers.

The theme for this year’s World Breastfeeding Week is “Enabling Breastfeeding: Making a Difference for Working Mothers”.


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