Alive and Thrive, an initiative to promote public health, has called for the adoption of family-friendly corporate workplace breastfeeding policies as it marks the 2023 World Breastfeeding Week.
The theme for this year is ‘Enable Breastfeeding, Making a Difference for Working Parents.’
The goal is to create a supportive environment for working mothers, enabling them to practice six months of exclusive breastfeeding for their babies.
Victor Ogbodo, director of Alive and Thrive said implementing friendlier workplace policies on breastfeeding will not only benefit employees’ well-being. It will also contribute to enhanced satisfaction, productivity, and retention.
“It is important to the importance of empowering corporate leaders to foster positive changes that support the well-being of working parents and promote the health and development of their children,” Ogbodo said.
To raise awareness, an engagement session was hosted, bringing together corporate leaders from Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), member organizations and Human Resources managers of private sector firms.
The focus was on promoting family-friendly workplaces and encouraging the utilization of the workplace lactation toolkit, developed jointly by Alive and Thrive and the NECA Network of Entrepreneurial Women.
Through these sessions, stakeholders aim to emphasize the importance of workplace support, including the provision of on-site crèches and six months of paid maternity leave for working mothers, to help them balance the demands of work and breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding plays a crucial role in the health and development of infants, providing essential nutrients and antibodies that protect against illnesses.
However, many working mothers face challenges in exclusively breastfeeding their babies due to unsupportive workplace policies, forcing them to return to work shortly after giving birth.
According to a 2020 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) on the impact of women on Nigeria’s economy, there are over 25 million women in the private sector workforce.
Experts say it is vital to provide these women, whether in formal or informal sectors, with a conducive environment that allows them to excel in their careers while ensuring optimal breastfeeding for their children.
Adewale-Smatt Oyerinde, director-general of Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, in a similar vein, urged more organisations to join the movement towards creating inclusive and nurturing work environments.
He emphasized that nurturing work environments for nursing mothers and their families is not only a social responsibility but also crucial for employee well-being and productivity.
Also, Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, the first lady of Lagos said the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for proper child care, nourishment, and upbringing cannot be overestimated.
“Breastfeeding, as we all know, is at the heart of proper child care, nourishment, and upbringing. The positive impact of exclusive breastfeeding on maternal, newborn, and child health and nutrition cannot be overemphasized,” she said.