Ghana’s maternity leave -Nursing mothers need up to five months to recuperate as well as bond better with their infants, so says the First Lady of the country Rebecca Akufo-Addo.
The first lady’s call for maternity leave extension is in line with provisions of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Maternity Protection Convention which Ghana is a signatory to.
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Rebecca AKufo-Addo made this call while speaking at a national launch of the 2017 World Breastfeeding Week at Takoradi in the Western Region.
According to her, women do not enjoy quality time with their infants after childbirth due to the short maternity leave given to them.
A report by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) indicates that only 52 per cent of Ghanaian mothers exclusively breastfeed their children.
Bemoaning the declining breastfeeding rates, Mrs. Rebecca noted that only breast milk provides children with the right nutrition and protection needed, especially in the early stages of their lives.
Her excellency Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo also emphasized on the need to improve the current support systems as well as create conducive environments for nursing mothers to held reduce the rate of maternal and child motarlity.
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She pointed out that mothers need to be educated and enlightened on the health benefits of breastfeeding to the boith mother and chiild.
The benefits of breastfeeding do not just last during infancy but are sustained throughout childhood, adolescence and into adulthood as well, according to the First Lady.
In order to spread the word faster, the First Lady called for “a strong partnership made up of the government, health partners, health practitioners, communities, non-governmental organisations, the media and civil society to advocate and help create an utmost protective and supportive environment exclusively for breastfeeding”
This according to her can help achieve at least the goal of 80 per cent of all babies born in Ghana exclusively breastfed by 2021.
Under Ghana’s Labour Law, women are entitled to 12 weeks or 84 working days of maternity leave with full pay, but the ILO Maternity Protection Convention, 2000 stipulates that martenity leave should be at least 14 weeks.
Under the ILO, Nursing mothers are entitled to a cash benefit, which ensures that they can maintain themselves and their child in proper conditions of health and with a suitable standard of living and which shall be not less than two-thirds of their previous earnings or a comparable amount.
It also prohibits employers from terminating the employment of a woman during pregnancy or absence on maternity leave, or during a period following her return to work, except on grounds unrelated to pregnancy, childbirth and its consequences or nursing.
Under the ILO Maternity protection convention, women returning to work must be allowed to occupy the same position or an equivalent position paid at the same rate.
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