Tanzania: Providing Stronger Support for Breastfeeding Mothers At Stanbic Bank

WHEN a larger percentage of women were stay-at-home mothers, breastfeeding was largely a hassle-free experience.

Today, when working mothers return to the workplace from maternity leave, they struggle to balance work while maintaining a breastfeeding schedule.

With more women in the workforce, mothers should be accommodated with adequate privacy and space where they can express milk during the day.

This will remove the anxiety when mothers return to work knowing that they can store milk for their baby.

Very few institutions and companies in Tanzania offer a safe and clean space for mothers to express their breast-milk, let alone provide cooling facilities to keep the milk from going bad-some women use their vehicles to pump milk while others have no choice but to express and get rid of the milk in public bathrooms.

Because of such challenges, the pressure to maintain an exclusive breastfeeding schedule is not only unrealistic but also draining and overwhelming.

Many decides to give up nursing early, a move that puts their children at risk of suffering from preventable diseases.

The World Health Organisation (WHO), recommends that babies should be breastfed for the first six months of their lives due to health benefits such as lower rates of obesity and asthma.

Breastfeeding benefits have also been linked to higher IQs.

For mothers, breastfeeding lowers the risk of certain types of diseases such as ovarian and breast cancer.

Stanbic Bank has it ingrained within its strategies, beliefs and hence priorities and practices that gender equality is paramount in how we operate.

We are proud to have established the first fully equipped nursing room at our head office which fits-in well to allow mothers of young babies get back to work from maternity leave, supported by conducive environment to effectively operate as career women and mothers too.

It does put into action the fact that we are an equal employment opportunity employer who practically invests towards removing physical, social and psychological barriers as well as all sorts of discrimination against women.

The bank understands the importance of breastfeeding in early childhood development and ensuring that lactating women are accommodated with adequate facilities.

The ambiance in the nursing room is welcoming and the room is equipped with comfortable seating, refrigeration to allow storage of the expressed milk, a sink for washing purposes and a TV screen for mothers to catch up with the day's events.

Women can have peace of mind when they return to work knowing that they can still provide for the nutritional needs of their babies.

Despite the fact that Tanzania has achieved a 60 per cent breastfeeding rate, there is a huge gap to be bridged at the workplace, and a nursing room is a universal solution that levels the playing field.

Organisations in Tanzania can follow this comprehensive approach to give their female employees peace of mind as they return to work after maternity leave.

As we continue to join the rest of the world in celebrating women this month, we should also ensure that mothers achieve their optimal rights, including breastfeeding.

The writer is a Stanbic Bank Tanzania's Head of Human Capital

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