BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
SENATE President Mabel Chinomona has urged State institutions and other organisations to provide workplace breastfeeding and nursing mother rooms.
In a statement, Chinomona said: “Parliament has already set the pace through establishment of a breastfeeding room for its nursing MPs and staff. The provision of workplace breastfeeding rooms, paid nursing breaks, and an enabling breastfeeding environment and culture are low-cost interventions that can contribute to improved breastfeeding, job productivity and employee retention.”
Zimbabwe has joined the rest of the world to commemorate World Breastfeeding Week, which runs under the theme Step Up for Breastfeeding, Educate and Support.
Chinomona said several studies had shown that providing a lactating programme in the workplace saved companies money by decreasing absenteeism and enhancing employee job satisfaction.
“I call upon government, businesses, civil society and families to work together to protect and facilitate this practice to protect women’s health and ensure that children are able to survive and thrive. As we celebrate World Breastfeeding Week, the Parliament of Zimbabwe further urges both the public and private sectors to take a stand and invest in breastfeeding rooms.”
She said reasonable break times for lactating mothers should be offered at work for up to one year.
Chinomona said breastfeeding rooms would enable mothers to privately express breast milk and also allow cognitive development of children, and reduce the burden of childhood and maternal illness.
Unicef estimates that through breastfeeding, the lives of more than 820 000 children under five could be saved and 20 000 cases of breast cancer could be prevented annually.