“We call up on the legislators to make laws that make it compulsory for every employer to establish a breast feeding centre to enable mothers support proper early childhood development,”
Women, under their umbrella organisation, Platform for Labour Action (PLA) have asked employers to give breast feeding mothers at least two hours off their duties to breast feed their babies at home.
Beatrice Mulindwa, the board member for PLA, while addressing women at Hotel Africana in Kampala on Thursday said, since majority of employers have not considered setting up breast feeding centers at work places, they should allocate at least two hours off work to enable women breast feed.
This follows a public outcry that many employers have failed to provide breast feeding facilities at work place.
Mulindwa said, "A case in point is the Parliament of Uganda which is among a few institutions that provide for breast feeding centres for their staff".
"We call up on the legislators to make laws that make it compulsory for every employer to establish a breast feeding centre to enable mothers support proper early childhood development," Mulindwa added.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), mothers are supposed to exclusively breastfeed their children for six months before introducing them to solid foods.
PLA is a civil society organisation focused on promoting and protecting the rights of vulnerable and marginalised workers, persons with disability, through empowerment of communities and individuals countrywide.
MPs speak out:
Workers' MP, Margaret Namubiru Rwabushaija who supported the proposal said exclusive breastfeeding protects children from malnutrition and diseases.
"The legislature should sensitise all employers of the importance of setting up breast feeding centres for mothers at the work place," said Rwabushaija.
The Bulamogi constituency MP Kenneth Lubogo supported the move for employers to allocate two hours to breastfeeding mothers saying: "Employers should facilitate breast feeding mothers with transport to and fro to enable them go back home".
However, Agnes Kunihira, also a workers' MP was against the proposal. "If Parliament endorses such a policy, some employers will not understand it, I am worried employers may lay off most breast feeding mothers under the guise of low productivity at work place," Kunihira said.
During the commemoration of the World Breast Feeding week in August, the state minister for health in charge of general duties, Sarah Opendi asked all employers to create breastfeeding corners for mothers in order to support proper early childhood development.
"I have observed that enforcement of maternal protection laws has failed but I am going to champion this cause," Opendi said.
She also warned young mothers who shun breastfeeding in order to keep their body especially breasts firm.
"We recommend exclusive breastfeeding, but if breast milk is to be stored, it should be put in the refrigerator and ensure proper hygiene," Opendi said.
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