Nursing mothers to win big in new counties plan
All the 47 county governments will establish nursing and baby care centres in all major towns to help working women attend to their children, if a petition by Senate Labour Committee is passed into law.
The centres will also create jobs besides ensuring children don’t miss the nutritional value of a mother’s milk for at least six months as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The Senate Labour Committee, chaired by Stewart Madzayo, said the petition seeks to ensure that just like smoking zones, specific areas, be designated for breast feeding mothers.
Many mothers, they observed, have to stop breastfeeding their children earlier than required so as to resume either formal or informal jobs, to fend for their families.
Senate deputy minority leader Abdirahman Hassan (Wajir) and Martha Wangari (Nominated) said the Ministry of Health can put in place appropriate policies to actualize the proposal.
The committee members said they will engage the Council of Governors and the National Government on the matter to safeguard the rights of women.
“The idea is super. We shall engage the governors and relevant government officials at the national level to ensure this works,” Ms Wangari said.
The committee will seek the Senate’s approval to start the process of coming with legislation that will go a long way in addressing challenges that women have been facing.
Sometimes, house helps quit without notice leaving mothers who have to go to work helpless, whereas others find it difficult to concentrate at work.
Mr Chrispinus Wekesa and Ms Grace Kerongo told the committee those parents in Kenya experience challenges finding suitable public space for breast feeding, cleaning and care of their infants.
They said some women, while travelling, have been forced to use public toilets that have no sitting space to change their babies’ nappies.
“Many women do not have privacy while breastfeeding. This is serious for parents working in public places like markets, as well as those travelling. Many government and private offices still do not have such facilities,” Mr Wekesa said.
Ms Kerongo said that young mothers have been forced to stop breastfeeding early and resume work, something that affects the development of the child.
The breastfeeding and child centres, if established, would be economically self-sustaining as parents would pay a nominal fee for maintenance of the facilities.
“If we have smoking zones, why can’t we have the breastfeeding zones? Such a centre will create employment for those selling children items besides, ensuring the mothers handle their children with decorum,” Ms Kerongo said.
Mr Hassan said there is need for public-private partnerships given that public service vehicles are privately owned.
“Finding suitable places for the working class woman to take care of their children is a good idea. They deserve something better than the current arrangement, where only few organization have designated areas,” he said.
Last year, MPs approved the breastfeeding clause in the Health Bill, 2015 that makes it mandatory for employers to provide breastfeeding stations for nursing mothers in the workplace.
The bill had been sponsored by the National Assembly Health Committee chaired by Rachel Nyamai (Kitui South).