Health News of Saturday, 28 June 2014
Maternity protection for working women is essential to their health and well-being and to that of their children. It is crucial to ensure women’s access to decent work, and to gender equality, as it enables women to combine their reproductive and productive functions, and to prevent unequal treatment in employment, due to women’s reproductive function.
Maternity protection for career women has been a core concern of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), since its foundation in 1919, when governments, employers and trade unions of member states, adopted the first Convention on Maternity Protection.
Over the course of its history, the ILO has adopted three Conventions on this subject, and these conventions, together with their corresponding recommendations, have over time, expanded the scope and entitlements of maternity protection at work and provided detailed guidance to orient national policy and action.
Maternity protection at work
Maternity protection at work aims at preserving the health of the mother and her newborn and to provide a measure of economic security for the concerned women and their families.
The ILO, as part of its strategic objective to support the government’s efforts aimed at accelerating progress towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goal five (MDG 5), which relates to improving maternal health, has designed a project on the theme: “Building Social Protection Floors for Pregnant Women and Nursing Mothers in Ghana”.
Working parents’ care responsibilities for their children, extend well beyond birth and the end of maternity and paternity leave. This is why the package provides an overview of set policies and measures that governments, employers, trade unions and others can take to enable men and women to provide continued care for their children, while fostering decent and productive work, for the benefit of all.
Engaging the media
To engage the media in order to increase advocacy and awareness of maternity protection among the public, with a special focus on the target group and policy makers, the ILO has organised a media launch and training workshop for the media and relevant stakeholders, to generate discussions and raise awareness.
Organised on the theme “Promoting Women Workers Right through Advocacy and awareness Creation,” the workshop brought together journalists across the country to get first-hand information on maternity protection, necessary conventions and laws supporting it, particularly, the Labour Act.
The project, which is at its inception stage, is based on the premise that women should not suffer unequal treatment at the workplace due to their reproductive functions.
In a statement presented on her behalf at the launch of the programme, the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur, said maternity protection played a vital role in achieving the MDGs, stressing that, “Indeed the ministry knows that safe maternity care for women workers is at the core of life itself”.
She indicated that apart from medical causes, maternal mortality and mobidity was related to a number of cultural, social and economic factors, and as such any national social protection policies that guaranteed access to basic income, security and healthcare should pay attention to the specific needs of pregnant women.
She indicated that the ministry and its development partners would work to make the project a reality.
Protecting mother and child
The Chief Director of the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr Roland Atta Modey, who chaired the function on behalf of the sector Minister, Mr Nii Armah Ashitey, said maternity protection for women was very critical since the health of a child depended on how well a woman was taken care of during pregnancy.
He indicated that although policies existed to provide maternity protection for working women, more was needed to protect the lives of mothers and their children.
A representative from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Miss Christiana Gbedemah, said inadequate maternity protection would have huge implications on exclusive breastfeeding for children in the first six months of birth.
She noted that exclusive breastfeeding helped in the development of the child and called on all relevant stakeholders to be advocates of maternity protection.