Social Protection Minister Volda Lawrence has stated that her Ministry is in support of a social policy for six months maternity leave to be granted to mothers, and so it has been placed on the 2017 Ministry’s agenda.
Currently, the mandate for three months of maternity leave flies in the face of the World Health Organisation’s calls for mothers to breastfeed their babies for six months. The Public Health Ministry and its Minister, Dr George Norton, has bemoaned mothers only being able to breastfeed for three months.
Norton stated that if the health sector would recommend six months exclusive breastfeeding then there should be discussions about mothers being granted six months leave. He acknowledged that this might burden employers, but in the long-run, it will be worth it.
Lawrence indicated that in the Ministry’s 2017 programme, they will push to ensure that wherever there are Ministries and Government agencies, there should be a place for mothers to go and breastfeed their babies.
“… we will push to ensure that where there are entities, Ministries, agencies and any place where mothers go to for services, that they have a place set aside so that mothers can breastfeed their babies. And we are going to start with the Ministry of Social Protection as soon as we have our new building,” she announced.
Minister Lawrence stated that day care services in corporate companies is another programme that they are looking to incorporate into the system.
Citing that maternal and child health care is an aspect of the health sector, Minister Norton said he will be moving sometime soon to take this issue to Cabinet. “I hope that six months of maternity leave will become a law before my tenure as Minister is up,” he said.