The Kaduna state government has initiated the implementation of a six-month paid maternity leave for employed mothers within the state’s civil service.
To commemorate World Breastfeeding Week, Hadiza Balarabe, the deputy governor of the state, announced that the duration of maternity leave has been extended from three to six months.
While the Nigerian labor act currently grants lactating mothers a three-month leave period, during which they are entitled to at least 50 percent of their monthly wages, various stakeholders have long advocated for an extension to six months of fully paid maternity leave. This change aims to provide greater support to nursing mothers, facilitating optimal breastfeeding.
In 2018, Punch reported that the federal government had increased maternity leave for women from 12 to 16 weeks.
World Breastfeeding Week is observed annually from August 1st to 7th, focusing on addressing challenges related to early breast milk initiation and exclusive breastfeeding practices.
Balarabe highlighted that the 2021 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) indicated that only 41.1 percent of children in Kaduna are exclusively breastfed. She emphasized the significant health advantages associated with optimal breastfeeding but noted that workplace obstacles often hinder nursing mothers.
“The progress achieved in bolstering nutritional interventions includes the introduction and enforcement of a six-month paid maternity leave (extended from the previous three months) for mothers employed within the state’s civil service,” the statement stated.
“This policy has already been implemented across all ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs), with the expectation that private and federal sectors within the state will follow suit. It has come to my attention that a few MDAs in Kaduna have not yet adopted this six-month maternity leave policy. This is unacceptable and will be addressed promptly.
“Creche facilities are being established across MDAs, such as the Ministry of Human Services and Social Development, as well as the Planning and Budget Commission. These creches aim to support nursing mothers in continuing to breastfeed their infants even after their maternity leave ends and they return to work. This will contribute to heightened productivity among working mothers. Additionally, plans are underway to expand the provision of such creche facilities to other MDAs.
“The state government has also set up nutrition corners across 23 Local Government Areas (LGAs), offering nutrition counseling and practical demonstrations on appropriately preparing and feeding infants aged six to 59 months.”
The deputy governor called upon stakeholders at all levels, including public health experts and managers, to establish a safe work environment for lactating mothers.
“It is imperative for governments at all levels to prioritize social protection measures that cater to pregnant women and caregivers of children under two years of age. These measures will support respectful, secure, and appropriate maternity services, as well as recommended practices for feeding infants and young children in Nigeria,” she emphasized.