I was impressed by the recent initiative by the Gender ministry to help working mothers. Under the new guidelines, working breast-feeding mothers are to be provided with day care centres and rest rooms for babies and their nannies.
These initiatives are welcome and they will go a long way in addressing the challenges working mothers face. A lot has been done to encourage girls’ education and when girls finish school, they find themselves in a situation where motherhood is standing in the way of career advancement.
Women are expected to be good wives, good mothers and good care givers in the community as well as good employees. All these responsibilities require time and commitment if one is to execute them effectively.
Many times, the roles women play are biological and cannot be performed by any other person. Many working mothers have found themselves in situations where they have to attend to sick children but are also expected at work.
We all know that doctors encourage women to exclusively breast-feed their babies for the first six months. Women also need to constantly check on their children and spend time with them as a way of bonding and building a relationship with their children.
I know some people will argue that women should devote themselves to their families until the children are old enough before resuming work. This, however, should be a matter of choice and the economic situation in this country usually requires both parents to work, given the high cost of living.
It is, therefore, good that the Gender ministry has come up with initiatives to help women balance their multiple roles. With child care centres in offices, it is expected that women will be more efficient at work and we also expect to have healthier children and thus a healthier nation.
I encourage all employers in the country, both in the private and public sector, to think of cost-effective ways in which working mothers can be supported more to fulfill their obligations.
These could include introducing flexible working hours to give breast-feeding mothers an hour late to report to work and go back an hour earlier than the rest of the employees. Some of these initiatives may appear expensive to the institutions in the short-run but they have enormous gains in the long-run.