A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) Alive and Thrive Project, says it is advocating for extra three months as maternity leave for breast-feeding mothers.
The Kaduna State Team Leader of the Organisation, Mr Christopher Musa, made the call on Tuesday when he paid a courtesy visit to the state Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.
Musa said the reason for the visit was to solicit the blessing of the ministry.
“We need all the support from the relevant stakeholders to be able to ask the state government to review its policy on maternity leave from the current three months to six months.”
According to him, breast-feeding is very critical to every child’s development.
“Our findings show that a number of women find it very difficult to practice exclusive breast-feeding especially the women who work in offices,” he said.
He said the organisation would continue to support the Federal Government in rolling out social and behaviour communication strategies that was developed for 2016 to 2020.
“Because children that are adequately breast fed have big economic value and can contribute meaningfully to the society.
“It has been estimated that for every one dollar spent in an initiative to encourage women to breastfeed their children adequately, you can get the return on investment in economic value of 35 dollars.”
Musa said the private sector might not be able to give nursing mothers a long period for maternity leave but the organisation was soliciting for the creation of an enabling environment for nursing mothers.
“For the public sector, we are pushing for a period of six months which will help the mothers,” he said, adding that exclusive breast-feeding is a behaviour change Issue.
Newsmen report that Alive and Thrive is a project geared towards saving lives and ensure that children live healthy in the society.
The project is funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Hajiya Hafsat Baba, the State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, said the ministry was in support of the call and also stressed the need to look into the issue of pregnant women.
Baba said that it was a good initiative as it would enable the baby bond with the mother, and help the mother understand the baby.
She, however, noted with concern, that the extended maternity leave initiative would not be used against women when looking for jobs.
The commissioner explained that the ministry was an advocate of exclusive breast-feeding, adding that the challenge they encounter was at the community level where it was hard to convince mothers not to give their babies water.
She called on the NGO to ensure that the advocacy would protect the women, so that their jobs would be secured.