Nutrition stakeholders in Kaduna State on Tuesday commenced a two-day meeting for the validation of the state’s maternity and paternity leave draft bill, to support optimal breastfeeding among working mothers.
Mahmoud Yamusa, Permanent Secretary, state Planning and Budget Commission, explained at the opening of the validation meeting in Kaduna, that the bill sought to improve the nutritional status of children in the state.
Mr Yamusa, who was represented by Salisu Lawal, Director, Development Aid Coordination, recalls that Governor Nasir El-Rufa’i led-administration has extended maternity leave from three to six months.
He said that the bill was a step towards providing a legal backing for the six months maternity leave policy for working mothers.
Mr Yamusa added that the bill also proposed two weeks paternity leave to enable husbands provide the needed care to newborn child and assist mothers to exclusively breastfeed their babies.
This, according to him, is crucial in ensuring optimal breastfeeding of newborn for the first six months, for healthy growth and development of the child.
“This is because the Kaduna State Government recognise nutrition as an essential component of the State’s human capital, economic growth and development.
“The government has also provided critical infrastructure for the effective implementation of Food and Nutrition Policy through the Kaduna State Multi Sectoral Strategic Plan of Action on Nutrition (KDMSPAN, 2020-2024).
“The meeting is to mobilize relevant stakeholders; policy and lawmakers, women groups, public and private sector, and associations to secure their buy-in and inputs towards the development and presentation of a final bill.
“It was also organised to improve and upgrade the content of the first draft bill for easy passage and develop a road map towards actualization of the agenda,” he said.
He thanked the Co-Chair, Kaduna State Nutrition Emergency Action Plan, KADENAP, Aisha-Ummi El-Rufa’i and development partners for supporting the development of legal framework for maternity and paternity leave in the state.
Isah Ibrahim, Nutrition Advocacy Advisor, Save the Children International, thanked the state government for putting strong structures in place to provide adequate nutrition for children in the state.
Ibrahim said that the bill, when passed into law, would significantly improve the practice of exclusive breastfeeding among working mothers in the state.
Sarah Kwasu, Team Lead, Alive and Thrive (Fhi 360), described the move as “crucial” in ensuring sustainability of the six months maternity leave and two weeks paternity leave.
Similarly, Silas Ideva, State Coordinator, Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN), said that the legal framework would improve the nutritional status of children in the state.
“CS-SUNN is working to ensure a nutrition secured society and the maternity and paternity leave is a milestone in promoting optimal breastfeeding practices among working class mothers’” he said.
Mohammed Sani-Hassan of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria, NSN, described the involvement of men in the promotion of optimal exclusive breastfeeding as “commendable”.
According to him, active male participation is needed to provide adequate nutrition and care for the survival, growth, and development of the child.
“The two weeks paternity leave will, therefore, change the erroneous belief that only the mother is responsible for the care of a child.”