With more women parliamentarians than ever before, it is crucial that facilities are available for women to adequately nourish their child during its first 1000 days. In Zimbabwe, Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care chairperson Dr Ruth Labode said “We now have more young female legislators in Parliament who have children and are breastfeeding.” It seemed imperative therefore that there should be a suitable place for women to breastfeed their children whilst at work, even in Parliament.
ZCSOSUNA national coordinator Mr Kudakwashe Zombe said the country’s labour laws do not provide for adequate maternity leave to allow lactating mothers to breastfeed their babies. He said there was a need for innovative ways to accommodate working women through creating parent-friendly workstations and hoped that the government of Zimbabwe would establish themselves as leaders in this sphere. According to a UNICEF Global Guide for Employers, family-friendly workplaces are associated with increased staff retention — particularly for skilled staff — and therefore lower recruitment and training costs, improved employee productivity and a more diverse workforce.
After pressure from ZCSOSUNA, the government agreed to make this change and after collaborating with the alliance, set up a feeding room for nursing mothers in parliament.
The room will be a safe place for mothers to express and store breastmilk. According to Mr Zombe, “with the establishment of the parent-friendly rooms, women can store this milk and take it home so that children have adequate nutrition.”
He continues; “the breastfeeding rooms will give an opportunity to legislators and other female employees to come to work with their babies, and it helps them to have a peace of mind.” The breastfeeding room at Parliament, said Zombe, allows women the convenience to express their milk freely and also feed their babies.
Changes such as these are crucial to giving women every opportunity to work as well as ensuring their baby has the healthiest and most nutritious start to life. Coordinator of ZCOSUNA, Kudawashe Zombe has said “In line with this year’s World Breastfeeding Week theme, Protect Breastfeeding: A shared responsibility. I believe that the parliament of Zimbabwe took a noble step of establishing a parent friendly room at parliament building and hope that other government ministries and departments as well as the private sector will also adopt the initiative and share the responsibility in protecting breastfeeding at work places.”