By Agripinner Nandhego
I was impressed by the recent initiative by the Ministry of Gender to come up with new guidelines to help breast feeding mothers at work places by providing day care centers and restrooms for babies together with their nannies.
I know that Parliament has already come up with a baby centre for Members of Parliament which I believe will be operational soon.
These initiatives are welcome and I believe they will go a long way in addressing the challenges working mothers face. A lot has been done to encourage girl’s education and when these young and bright girls finish school they find themselves in a situation where motherhood is standing in their way for career advancement. Women are expected to be good wives, good mothers, and good care givers in the community as well as good employees at the work place. All these responsibilities require time and commitment if one is to execute them effectively.
Many times the roles women play are biological and cannot be performed by any other person but others have just been assigned to them and can be shared or redistributed to other people. Many working mothers have found themselves in situations where they have to attend to sick children but are also expected in office.
We all know that doctors have been encouraging women to exclusively breast feed their babies for the first 6 months because breast milk has been found to be very beneficial to a baby as compared to artificial milk. Women also need to constantly check on their children and also spend time with them as a way of bonding and building a future relationship with the child.
Sometimes women have found themselves in situations where they cannot be recognized by their own babies because of keeping away from them for a long time. I know some people will argue that women should devote themselves to their families until the children are old enough then they can go back to work but this is a matter of choice and the economy now demands that both parents should be working given the high cost of living.
It is therefore good that the Ministry of Gender is now coming up with initiatives to help women balance their multiple roles. With child care centers in offices it is expected that women will be more efficient at work and we also expect to have healthier children and thus a healthier nation.
I encourage all employers in the country both in the private and public sector to think of cost effective ways in which working mothers can be supported more to fulfill their obligations. These could include introducing flexible working hours where breastfeeding mothers can be allowed to report an hour late and go back an hour earlier than the rest of the employees to help them cope with the situation.
Some of these initiatives may appear expensive to the institutions in the short run but they have enormous gains in the long run as a friendly environment will motivate women to perform better. Well knowing that salary alone is not the number one motivator for most workers, let us come up with new initiatives that will make the work environment more gender responsive.
It is high time all Ugandans recognised the enormous contribution women make to this country through care work. We need to “walk the talk” instead of lamenting about the challenges women face at the work place.
Breast feeding corners in offices good for mothers