During World Breastfeeding Week, the UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative, Cristian Munduate, urged the Nigerian Federal and State governments, along with employers, to establish a supportive breastfeeding environment for working mothers.
Munduate highlighted that Nigeria is far from achieving the World Health Assembly’s 70% breastfeeding target by 2030.
Presently, only seven out of 36 states offer six months of fully paid maternity leave, and merely 34% of children aged 0 to 6 months are exclusively breastfed as recommended by UNICEF.
The statement was titled ‘A lifeline for children and economies: The urgent call for greater breastfeeding support across all workplaces.’
She said: “As the world marks World Breastfeeding Week, I am calling upon the Nigerian Federal and State governments and employers to take decisive actions to ensure a supportive breastfeeding environment for all working mothers, including those in the formal and informal sectors.
“Presently, women make up 20 million out of the 46 million workforce in Nigeria; 95 per cent are within the informal sector, while the formal sector only employs five per cent. Shockingly, only nine per cent of organisations have a workplace breastfeeding policy, with only 1.5 per cent in the public sector. Women in the informal sector have nearly no support for breastfeeding.
“It is important to have policies that support breastfeeding, such as paid maternity leave for six months, as well as paid paternity leave, flexible return-to-work options, regular lactation breaks during working hours and adequate facilities that enable mothers to continue exclusively breastfeeding for six months, followed by age-appropriate complementary feeding while breastfeeding continues to two years and beyond.”