EDITORIAL: Maternity insurance is all in the interest of the baby

Maternity leave for mothers will no longer be a cause for anguish as a new law went into force this month.

Previously, mothers only received a six-week paid leave and thereafter would forfeit 80 per cent of their salaries if they sought an extension.

The new law had to tread a fine line between giving mothers a fair deal of spending more time with their newborns and easing the burden on employers. Now both employers and workers will contribute to the maternity fund that will be managed by Rwanda Social Security Board.

The plight of mothers had been a blot on Rwanda’s otherwise good gender equity record, so the new arrangement should be seen in the light of solidifying our gender policies.

Conventional wisdom has been that women bear the burden and consequences of giving birth. Fathers only came on board with material support.

The coming into force of the maternity insurance did not fail to attract some hesitations – and even objections – from some sections of society. But proponents of the insurance were not short with explanations of why everyone should come on board.

Some, jokingly, would jibe that even priests and nuns would be contributing, why not those not limited by celibacy vows?

But looking at it in a more serious manner, a newborn needs the comfort of the mother and material considerations should not impede the fact. It is a small sacrifice but a necessary one for that matter. So a baby should be the last to suffer in the name of saving 0.3 per cent of someone’s gross earnings.