The third Parliament will do all to ensure the establishment of the long-awaited Maternity Insurance Fund, House Speaker, Donatille Mukabalisa has said.
The Speaker said this during Thursday’s press conference at the Senate plenary.
She was responding to questions raised by journalists on the plight of breast-feeding mothers working in the private sector and their infants, after the new labour code passed last year, cut the number of paid maternity leave days by half.
Under the new labor code, a mother working in the private sector is entitled to six weeks of maternity leave will full monthly salary.
Those who chooses to remain at home get paid 20 per cent of her salary. It was initially planned that the remaining 80 per cent be covered by the Maternity Insurance Fund. Mothers employed in the public sector do not feel the pinch as they have three months’ salary during maternity leave because the public service statute has not changed.
“This is something people should examine carefully, and make a choice but we are following things up so that that a fund is established,” Mukabalisa said.
However, she stressed, in many countries, women are denied employment opportunities just because of the “long maternity leave period.”
“I really must say that this is an issue we shall keep following up so that the fund is set up, but it is important to understand the importance of women’s rights to employment.”
The Speaker noted that unlike in Rwanda, women elsewhere were unfairly segregated when it comes to employment opportunities. She particularly gave an example of the situation in Belgium where she was last week.
“Their situation is really alarming yet we think this is a developed country! They have about 40 per cent women in Parliament but the salaries of women are not on the same grade with men. We were informed it is also very difficult for a woman to get a job,” she said.
MPs maintain that the maternity leave arrangement is solely to promote gender equality – mainly by ensuring equal opportunities for women in the private sector.
The issue has again come up in the on-going 11th National Dialogue meeting and government officials, including the Prime Minister, say the fund is not a forgotten issue.