The discussion for an extension of maternity leave for nursing mothers is fast growing among Ghanaian workers as it appears to be gaining more momentum.
Most companies in Ghana grant nursing mothers a three months’ leave while they receive salaries during the period.
However, there has been increasing agitations for this to change to six months.
While a large majority of women are pushing for an extension, a large portion of female business leaders appear not to agree.
Dr. Nana Yaa Owusu Prempeh is one of the female entrepreneurs who believe extending the leave time will only lead to losses in the business sector.
“I am a mother of four, I have done it, when I was pregnant I was going to work and school at the same time, I’m not here to condemn women because I believe in women but the fact that you are a woman and you get pregnant does not mean you have come to the end of the world and we should clap for you but we are trying to build an economy which should sustain itself.”
But Dr. Gabriel Ganyaglo a Gynaecologist at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital however believes women must be given 6 months of maternal leave as it is crucial in the early stage of life of a baby.
“There is also the aspect of feeding the baby and we do have the policy recommendation that says that you should exclusively breast feed your baby for up to six months and there is enough evidence out there to show that when mothers return early to work then they turn to shorten the regulation of breastfeeding. In other words, if the mother delays her return to work, she breastfeeds for longer.”
Ghana is one of many African countries whose maternity leave duration is below the International Labour Organisation (ILO)’s standard.
According to an ILO report, Sierra Leone and Sudan top the list of African countries that offers the longest period of maternity leave with twenty six weeks, representing six months, two weeks.
They are followed closely by Gambia with 18 weeks which adds up to four months, two weeks.
South Africa places third with seventeen weeks which is equivalent to four months, seven days.
In Europe, the United Kingdom offers twenty six weeks for maternity leave.
International Human Resource and Labour Expert, Anita Wiafe-Asinor justifies why Ghana must also extend its leave period to six months
“It’s all about how you look at it. Maternity leave is to give the mother a chance to take care of the baby, as of now we have twelve weeks then when people come back the practice now in Ghana is that they have twelve weeks pay, they come back then you have just one hour but if you say six months is what the World Health Organization recommends at least six months of breast feeding is good enough and that means by the time the mother comes back the child is sitting or even crawling. In some cases, they are eating solids then the worry of a mother leaving the baby so early goes down.”
The Chief Executive Officer of Edel Technology, Ethel Cofie who also had to experience dealing with such issues and being a woman, calls for a balance of the two.
“This is something that affects all of us. Men stop hiring women because they believe if you do that it is still bad for the business and a lot of businesses will go that way. We want to prevent that because we want to push women into leadership and the woman will also have time to bond with her baby, so four to five months makes sense for both bodies.”
By: Jessica Ayorkor Aryee/citibusinessnews.com/Ghana