WINDHOEK - The Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) has called on government to review the law on maternity leave.
The LAC wants government to consider allowing women six months leave or requiring employers to institute other measures to facilitate continued breastfeeding. This follows reports that breastfeeding in Namibia is too low with only 53.6 percent of mothers who exclusively breastfeed their babies aged zero to two months and an even lower 22.9 percent of mothers who breastfeed their babies aged two to three months.
Furthermore, only 5.7 percent of mothers breastfeed babies aged four to five months, while the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that mothers exclusively breastfeed their children for six months. According to the LAC, a contributing factor is the lack of public awareness about the advantages of exclusive breastfeeding for six months, as well as the fact that maternity is only three months long, with one month taken before the birth of the child.
“The recently released government National Agenda for Children states that one of the government’s priority strategies is to promote exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. However the report does not make it clear how the government intends to balance this commitment with the Labour Act and Social Security Commission’s current provision of three rather than six months maternity leave,” stated LAC in a press release issued on Tuesday.