HOW KENYA MARKED WORLD BREASTFEEDING WEEK

Dr Kioko  from the Ministry of Health and Safaricom CEO,Bob Collymore .
Dr Kioko from the Ministry of Health and Safaricom CEO,Bob Collymore .

“It is embarrassing that in the 21st century women should have to be expressing milk in washrooms and toilets.”

-Bob Collymore  CEO,Safaricom

You know the event you are attending is going to be great and has been well planned for months  when you are handed a sky blue media kit complete with a DVD by UNICEF .

I am entering the Michael Joseph Center and it looks resplendent in blue and white colors for the official launch of the breastfeeding week that is being celebrated in more than 17 countries across the world.

But first a thorough  security check you are entering  “Fort Knox”.

The Ministry of health together with relevant stake holders is launching Guidelines on Support for Working Mothers A first in Kenya and the theme for this year is Breastfeeding at Work,Lets make it Work.

The Chief Guest for the event is James Macharia,the Cabinet Secretary for Health but he sends Dr James Kioko in his place.

As usual we are a wee bit late in starting the event,but not to worry i get time to admire the baby piano and nice seats at the MJ center,i almost wish i could carry one or six with me .

We are first led on a tour of Safaricom”s Mothers room and creche,facilities that are a first for a Kenyan company to invest in for their female staff who are parents or plan to be in the near future.

As Mrs Marilyn Mbuthia the Head of HR Operations tells us,female staff at Safaricom get an extra one month of maternity leave in addition to the statutory 12 weeks the government recommends.

Mothers working here also enjoy flexible working hours and a medical insurance that covers all costs from pre- natal,post natal to delivery  costs.

We got entertainment from a group of mothers called Diamond Mothers,who meet at St Teresa’s Catholic Church in Mathare,an informal settlement in Nairobi and their skit on the challenges and benefits of  breastfeeding deserved an award.

One of the mothers from the group recounted her experience losing a child at 5 months because she had started giving him complementary foods at 1 month.There was in drop silence as she told her story in Swahili.

The CEO of Safaricom Bob Collymore gave a passionate appeal for corporates to see facilities like a mothers room as being the right thing to do.

Every company needs to support women who choose to breastfeed and it need not be an expensive venture like what they have done,a mothers room to express milk is enough.

While making the workplace a conducive environment for mothers has largely been led by the private sector will the public sector slow to follow ,it is a milestone to finally see the government launch guidelines on making the workplace a more family and child friendly environment.

Who knows,we may just see a creche at parliament .

Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore and Dr Kioko helping children at the Safaricom creche with their artwork.
Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore and Dr Kioko helping children at the Safaricom creche with their artwork.

NESTLE EAST AFRICA LAUNCHES BREASTFEEDING CENTRE

Inside the Breastfeeding Centre
Inside the Breastfeeding Center

Late on Tuesday evening a friend sent me a media invite for the launch of the Nestle Breastfeeding centre, and  early on what turned out t be a chilly morning yesterday I was making my way to the Nestle offices in Industrial area.

Curious,very curious we all were when we  got there.

But first some coffee to ward of the chills.

And as  the res of the world prepared to celebrate World Breast feeding week from the 1st to the 7th  of August,Nestle was marking a mile stone with the launch of  their breastfeeding center.

Present at the event was the Nestle Management led by  head of Nestle East Africa Cluster Ms Ciru Miring’u and to officially open the  center was the Chief Executive Officer f the Federation f Kenya Employers Ms Jackline Mugo.

As  Ms Ciru Muring’u pointed out supporting breastfeeding mothers made sense for them as it resulted in lower medical costs,lower absenteeism rates at work and increased retention of female employees.

Research has underlined  the critical role breast milk plays in the formative years of a child’s life, the World Health Organization recommends that exclusive breastfeeding be done for the first 6 months of a child’s life.Complementary foods  are introduced after 6 months while  breastfeeding should continue  up to the age of 2 years.

Unfortunately this does not always happen.

Many a working mother in Kenya can attest to the heart wrenching feeling that comes when they have to go back to work and leave their babies at home.With most work places not having any designated places where women who choose to exclusively breastfeed can pump breast milk and store it for use when they get home they  are forced to abandon exclusively breastfeeding their children .

The ones bold enough to find a private place to pump breast milk for their children resort to using workplace washrooms ,which are not the most hygienic or even private places to do so.

Friendly and supportive work place policies will ensure women continue playing a role in providing much needed nutrition to their children for the first 6 months of their lives.

A few years back when i had my daughter and was working i had to carry a stash of breast pads with me to soak up excess milk that inadvertently leaked for the 8 hours i was at work.

Ms Jackline Mugo,the Chief Executive Officer of the Federation of Kenya Employers lauded Nestle East Africa for taking the bold step to support women in the critical role they play as mothers and hoped that other employers would make it possible for women to achieve a work life balance with such initiatives.

Does you work place have a designated lace for mothers to make use of if they choose to exclusively breastfeed,share with us in the comments section.Also do let us know what steps Kenyan employers can play in helping mothers raise their children while they are at work.

The Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) CEO, Ms. Jacqueline Mugo and the Head of Nestle East African Cluster, Nestle Kenya Ms. Ciru Miring’u officially commission a breastfeeding room at Nestle Kenya. The facility will provide a conducive environment to facilitate mothers to continue breastfeeding at work.
The Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) CEO, Ms. Jacqueline Mugo and the Head of Nestle East African Cluster, Nestle Kenya Ms. Ciru Miring’u officially commission a breastfeeding room at Nestle Kenya. The facility will provide a conducive environment to facilitate mothers to continue breastfeeding at work.