Are six weeks enough for maternity leave?

They’re reasonable Women have over the years become an important aspect in the development of our society and form a large part of the labor force.
Ivan Mugisha & Rachel Garuka
Ivan Mugisha & Rachel Garuka

They’re reasonable

Women have over the years become an important aspect in the development of our society and form a large part of the labor force.

They have become too indispensable in their jobs that employers find it hard to let them even go away for a second- meaning that their skills and talents are too important in the production of goods and services to any public or private entity.

Unfortunately for the employers, everybody needs to rest. Therefore, the law requires that there must be a provision for paid leave in any contractual negotiation between employers and their employees.

Employers must succumb to the fact that their employees will be away from work for some time, doing their private activities, completely undisturbed.

This spells as sad news for employers but delicious news for workers- and for all the time, both parties will always seek to maximize their benefits. Employers will naturally seek to suck every nutrient from their workers, whereas workers will be praying for the creation of more public holidays.

But usually, they strike a balance and both parties benefit when they maintain professionalism in these endeavors.

The idea of maternity leave stems from the fact that mothers need more time with their newly born babies; this is the period usually spent on creating that God-given bond between a mother and her child through breastfeeding.

But sincerely speaking, does a woman require a whole year to breastfeed or is it plausible that she needs to stay home for a whole six months with her baby to create special bonds? In my opinion, she doesn’t have to.

To me, six weeks are quite reasonable and anything more than that is simply an exaggeration. Employers are also people who need to protect the sustainability of their businesses and therefore, require those skills they hired almost every day.

I know there could be murmurs amongst some readers who believe that I may don’t have the authority to speak for women in this regard, but here’s the mere truth.

Besides the obvious fact that I was born by a woman, I have lived with women my entire life and have made observations that quite offer me the authority to speak so boldly about issues like maternity leave.

I have seen women who after only two weeks after birth will head to the garden to dig for food- how different are these women from the rest? I have seen others who a few days after birth will go back to their shops to do business as usual; same question, how different are they from other women?

You’ll find that women who glue on having more days for their maternity leave are employees but not self employed; that is to say, they may not care much about a firm they work for than they do their own wellbeing.

The legislators therefore are spot-on; the idea to hack down maternity leave from twelve to six weeks is good for the economy and also importantly, it is still enough time for women to breastfeed.

Not only is it unfair to employers, but a long maternity leave is simply a luxury that a developing country cannot afford.

ivan.mugisha@newtimes.co.rw
RushAfrican@newtimes.co.rw

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Is this a joke?

I think we are moving in the wrong direction when it comes to maternity leave. Instead of increasing the time for women to nurture their babies, it is being cut down to something as ridiculous as 6 weeks! Is this some kind of strategy to get women to cut down on the babies they are pushing out? Wrong approach!

One guy brusquely asked me when this very topic came up what we women needed months of maternity leave for! I thought it was only fair to ask him if he had a uterus or breasts to feed what came out of that uterus! He then asked me why I was such a feminist! Jesus Christ – can’t women defend their issues without being called feminists?

It is just the way it is – women need more time with their babies. Sure there are women who go back to work quickly because they are just dying to get back to their jobs - though resuming work in just 6 weeks hardly seems enviable for anyone but the most dedicated career women.

However, the majority of these ‘moms in the fast lane’ –ripping babies from their breasts and scurrying off to work with breast milk staining their shirts, heavy lids (for lack of a good nights’ sleep) and a heavy heart, are probably doing so because they feel they have no choice.

The motives of some of these women vary from concern that their employers will punish them for taking too much time off, the need to get back in and support the budding family or they simply want to prove to their employers that they are in fact devoted to their jobs.

Whatever the reason, it’s a shame because unless they are self employed, many women feel they have no option but to leave their babies in the care of others and resume work in the quickest time possible. I bet some people think that the fact that women are entitled to an hour a day to go home and breast feed is enough to fix this problem.

Does every woman have the luxury of getting into her car to go home and feed her baby? Personally, as a public means transport user, I can assure you it is not in the same bracket with easy. Some days I find myself waiting for a bus/taxi for over 20 minutes – now if I were breastfeeding, that means I would have about 40 minutes to get home, breast feed the child and make it back to work on time. That is something only Super Woman can do!

From what I know, it takes a woman who’s had a natural birth about 6 weeks to fully heal – that means one who’s had a C-Section will need even more time. Other than that, according to thestir.cafemom.com, when mothers return to work after a short maternity leave, it adversely affects the kids’ health, development and behavior.

Short maternity leaves have been linked to developmental delays, sickness, and even death. Think of it this way - if babies are supposed to be exclusively breast fed for the first 6 months and they only have 6 weeks, mothers are forced to resort to other alternatives like baby formula which is no where near the real thing. This isn’t about women getting lazy and staying home doing nothing – they are nurturing what will be the future!

I think the issue should be seriously looked into again –no scratch that – there is no need to look into anything because the facts are already out there. Maternity leave should be extended –not chopped. We owe it not only to ourselves (I mean women) but to our children too.

rachelgaruka@yahoo.co.uk

 

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