In Summary
  • Exclusive breastfeeding, though, has not been a walk in the park, especially for career women in Kenya
  • One of the major contributing factors has been lack of breastfeeding spaces at the workplace.
  • The Health Act also requires organisations with more than 30 employees to establish a lactation area for mothers.

In 2012, the World Health Assembly endorsed a policy brief that set an ambitious global breastfeeding target.

The assembly, which is a forum of the World Health Organization (WHO) required that the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months across the world be increased to at least 50 per cent.

This target was not so far-fetched. Analyses by WHO indicated that non-exclusive breastfeeding contributed to 11.6 per cent of mortality in children under the age of five years.

In 2011, this figure was equivalent to about 804,000 child deaths. Exclusive breastfeeding, though, has not been a walk in the park, especially for career women in Kenya.

SPACES

One of the major contributing factors has been lack of breastfeeding spaces at the workplace. Shaming of breastfeeding mothers and lack of private and decent breastfeeding areas has not made the situation any easier for many mothers to bear. This has led to many babies being sub-optimally breastfed.

During the 2018 Breast Feeding Week that was marked in the first week of August, Gloria Ndekei, a Better Business Practices consultant at the Kenya Private Sector Alliance said that 35 corporates in the business alliance had set up breastfeeding areas for their women employees.

By August 2018, some of the companies that hosted breastfeeding centres included Safaricom, World Vision, Kenya Red Cross, International Medical Corps, Mabati Rolling Mills, and the KWFT Microfinance. Individual entrepreneurs have also taken up the challenge and are opening up lactation spaces for their employees.

Janet Mulei, a mother of three, and founder and director, Diamond Junior School, has a room at her institution that is dedicated to any of her breastfeeding staff and parents.

“We have also introduced a program where in addition to the three months maternity leave, new mums work half day until their baby is six months.

This will allow such mothers the opportunity to exclusively breastfeed and bond with their babies,” says Janet.

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