Kenya’s parliament has approved a bill which allows breastfeeding at work, a welcome development which will encourage women to continue breastfeeding even when they return to the workplace.

The bill also states that employers must give time for women to breastfeed and the BBC reports that the breastfeeding stations would include breast pumps and fridges.

Setting the trend:

Kenya joins only a few countries in Africa with clear legislation and good practices, which compel employers to provide special breastfeeding areas for employees with babies.

South Africa’s breastfeeding mothers are protected by the country’s Basic Conditions of Employments Act of 1997, which provide guidelines for employers and workers on the protection of employees during pregnancy, after birth of a child and and while breast-feeding.

The Code of Good Practice is part of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the law compels employers to allow breastfeeding mothers to take two 30-minute breaks a day to feed their children amongst other requisites.

Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga shares a light moment with children in the newly built facility. Photo: Parliament of Uganda
Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga with children in the newly built breastfeeding facility last year. Photo: Parliament of Uganda

Last year, the Parliament of Uganda became the first public institution to offer a breastfeeding facility in the country. The facility comprises of a play area, kitchen, sleeping area, breastfeeding room and bathroom.

Kenya’s new legislation is welcome considering that  research indicate that women who are employed full-time are less likely to initiate breastfeeding and to continue breastfeeding once they return to work, owing to a number of workplace-related impediments.

Breastfeeding is a fundamental right recognised by UNICEF under Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Article notes that breastfeeding is “an essential component in assuring the child’s right to the highest attainable standard of health,”

“This means that governments are under an obligation to ensure an environment that empowers women to breastfeed their children if they choose to do so”.

Source: BBC