Strengthening Workplace Policies for Exclusive Breastfeeding in Nigeria.
The 2021 Nutrition Policy Dialogue focused on "Strengthening Workplace Policies for Exclusive Breastfeeding in Nigeria," highlighting the country's low rate of exclusive breastfeeding, at just 24%, well below the global target of 50% set by the World Health Assembly (WHA) for 2025. The dialogue aimed to raise awareness and promote discourse on robust workplace policies supporting exclusive breastfeeding as women constitute 48% of Nigeria's labour force, it is crucial to create an enabling environment for them to thrive in the workplace while promoting exclusive breastfeeding, which offers immense benefits to both infants and mothers.
Key strategies included implementing breastfeeding-friendly policies such as extended paid maternity leave, flexible work hours, lactation rooms, and creches, which are essential to achieving the World Health Assembly's target and ensuring the well-being of mothers and children.
The dialogue also emphasized the importance of multisectoral coordination in nutrition programs, examining existing national legislation, policies, and coordination frameworks for nutrition, with a focus on the first 1,000 days of life and the need for exclusive breastfeeding strategies, while stressing the vital need for strong coordination between the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning and the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment to review the National Labour Act and extend paid maternity leave. UNICEF's advocacy efforts to promote stronger breastfeeding protection policies were addressed, acknowledging barriers such as women's career concerns, policymakers' misconceptions, and private sector resistance. The dialogue featured a case study of Kaduna State, which successfully amended its maternity leave policy to provide six months of paid maternity leave. Continuous communication and advocacy efforts led to widespread adoption of the new policy across government agencies and the private sector.