About 9 percent of organisations in Nigeria have a workplace breastfeeding policy, including just 1.5 percent in the public sector, despite growing knowledge of the advantages of nursing for infants and their mothers. In view of this, stakeholders have asked for a family-friendly workplace breastfeeding policy to achieve this goal, which would encourage more women to exclusively breastfeed their children for six months.
“The Director of the Alive &Thrive Project, Dr. Victor Ogbodo, said this at an event in Lagos to commemorate World Breastfeeding Week with the theme: “Enable Breastfeeding: Making a Difference for Working Parents”: “For societies and economies to thrive, countries and businesses need to support workers and their families, through family-friendly policies, as they carry and raise children from pregnancy to school age.“
Ogbodo explained that family-friendly policies are those policies that help to balance and benefit both work and family life that typically provide three types of essential resources needed by parents and caregivers of young children: time, resources, and services. “Mutual investment by families, businesses, and the State in this critical phase of the early years of life lay the foundation for children’s success in school, adults’ success at work, the ability of children and families to exit poverty, and the attainment of lifelong health”
According to a 2020 report by Pricewaterhouse Cooper on the impact of women on Nigeria’s economy, there are over 25 million women working in Nigeria’s private sector, hence, the need to provide these women and their families either in the formal or informal private sector, an enabling environment to win in their careers without sacrificing optimal exclusive breastfeeding for their children.
“I call on you all to join hands with the government of Nigeria and implement the Baby Friendly Initiative Guidelines in the workplace by providing paid extended maternity and paternity leave, on-site or near-site lactation rooms/creches, protection from discrimination and guaranty of job security for working mothers while on leave.”
At the event organised in collaboration with Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, NECA’s Network of Entrepreneurial Women, NNEW, and Alive & Thrive, held in Lagos, the Wife of Lagos State Governor, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, noted that a report by the World Health Organisation, WHO, showed that half a billion working women not given essential maternity protections in national laws, is worrisome.
Sanwo-Olu called for stakeholders’ urgent intervention towards implementing policies and finding solutions that provide opportunities for nursing mothers to have access to a minimum of 18 weeks of maternity leave or extend beyond six months for both private and public institutions.
Meanwhile, on his part, the Director General, NECA, Mr. Adewale-Smatt Oyerinde, said creating a nurturing work environment for nursing mothers and their families is not only a social responsibility but also a key driver of employee well-being and productivity.
The Chief Executive Officer, of FSDH Merchant Bank, Mrs. Bukola Smith, said there is a lot of work needed in promoting advocacy on breastfeeding in a corporate environment, adding that many banks do not have policies to support female workers in this category.
The Director General, of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, Mr. Segun Ajayi-Kadri, emphasised the importance of establishing a conducive workplace culture and facilities for nursing mothers and their infants to enhance productivity and profitability.
Ajayi-Kadri, who was represented by General Manager, Human Resources, Admin, Emmanuel Okonmah, expressed the association’s commitment to collaborate with groups promoting female workers’ welfare in companies and factories.