By Aliyu Dangida
Wife of Katsina State Governor and First Lady, Hajiya Zulaihat Dikko Radda in collaboration with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) have condemned in totality the shocking revelation that only 9% of organisations have workplace breastfeeding policy in the country, calling for an end to it in the State.
Mrs. Radda while speaking at the flag off of the 2023 World Breastfeeding Week in Katsina called on the Katsina State Government and private organisations in the state to provide an effective work place support for nursing mothers; advocating for at least four months maternity leave with full pay for nursing mothers in the state.
According to her, early return to work after childbirth is among the major factors compounding breastfeeding issues in the state, identified inadequate knowledge and bad social norms as other major factors.
Consequently, the Katsina First Lady, called on all MDAs, community leaders to ensure that women are included in system transformations to ensure breastfeeding -friendly communities and workplaces respectively.
Drawing reference from Chapter two verse 233 of the Holy Quran, the Katsina First Lady said: “Even in Islam, mothers are expected to breastfeed their offspring for two whole years. I believe that every other religion also encourage the act of breastfeeding. It sure has a long-term health and economic benefit to a nation.”
While applauding UNICEF and
the State Primary Health Care Agency for collaborating with her for the 2023 World Breastfeeding Week, said her doors are opened to individuals, corporations, and institutions through her NGO: “Safe Space Humanitarian Initiative” in partnering to make significant impact in the areas of health, education, and climate change,
creating a better future for Nigeria people.
Speaking earlier, UNICEF Chief Field Officer, Kano Office, Mr. Rahama Rihood Mohammed Farah, in his goodwill message for the 2023 World Breastfeeding Week said there is urgent need to change the narratives of workplace breastfeeding policy with only 1.5 percent in the public sector and only 9 percent organisations.
Farah said: “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.”
Among the request Farah put forward to the Katsina State Government to help address the challenges of breastfeeding in workplaces includes: the provisions of adequate resources for prevention of malnutrition through promotion, protection and support for Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition; extension of paid maternity leave for Government Employees from the current three months to six months and prioritizing the needs of working parents through provision of lactation rooms/crèches in all MDAs as well as flexible work arrangements.
Farah expressed hope that by taking these steps, workplaces can set a positive example for others to follow and ultimately leading to healthier and happier families.
Farah also urged all working mothers and parents to join hands in advocating for breastfeeding rights from their employers while advancing their careers.
In the same vein, he called on mothers with access to digital platforms to join online and offline networks to share experiences and gained knowledge as breastfeeding working parents.
Finally, Farah called on everyone,: traditional, religious, community leaders, CSOs, and the media to support breastfeeding, stating that “together, we can create a supportive environment that enables breastfeeding, fosters work-life balance, and ensures the health and happiness of our families.”