Wife of Gov. Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, Hajiya Aisha-Ummi, has described the extension of maternity leave for civil servants from three months to six months as an investment in human capital development.
Mrs El-Rufa’i, Chairperson, Kaduna State Nutrition Emergency Action Plan, stated this in Kaduna on Wednesday at a two-day stakeholders’ validation meeting on the Maternity and Paternity Leave Bill.
The Bill provides for six-month maternity leave for women and proposes two-week paternity leave for husbands who work in public service.
She said that government was translating the pronouncement of the approved six months’ maternity leave into a law to ensure sustainability.
She said that the step would encourage and improve working mothers’ adherence to the six-month exclusive breastfeeding period, adding that it was aimed at providing the babies with the needed nutrients for the first 1,000 days of their lives.
“This will ensure the survival, healthy growth and development of the child into an intelligent, innovative and creative adult that will contribute to the development of the state and the nation.
“The extension will equally help full recovery of women after childbirth and support them to breastfeed their children exclusively for six months, without any fear of losing their jobs.
“The maternity leave will further ensure effective access to quality maternal healthcare, thereby contributing to the health and wellbeing of mothers and their babies,” she said.
El-Rufa’í said that the state government had also adopted and approved some of the national food and nutrition policies, strategies and plans to improve the nutritional status of women and children.
She identified some of these policies, strategies and plans as the State Policy on Food and Nutrition, the State Strategic Plan of Action on Nutrition, 2016-2020, and the State Maternal, Infant and the Young Child Nutrition Strategy, 2019-2023.
“Others are the State Multi-Sectorial Strategic Plan of Action for Food and Nutrition, 2020-2024, and the Draft Social and Behaviour Change Communication Strategy for Infant and Young Children Feeding, 2017-2021.
“The government, with support of development partners, is equally implementing the Community Management of Acute Malnutrition, Infant and Young Child Feeding Intervention.
“All these are in a bid to improve the nutrition status of women and children in the state,’’ she added.