Sunday Mail Reporter
PARLIAMENT has opened a breastfeeding facility to be used by nursing legislators and staff during House sittings, a development expected to offer convenience to lactating Parliamentarians and other House staff.
The Zimbabwe Civil Society Organisations Scaling Up Nutrition Alliance (ZICSOSUNA) on Friday handed over equipment for the Family Friendly Room to the patron of the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus, Cde Mabel Chinomona, during a ceremony at Parliament building.
The donated equipment includes a couch set, refrigerator, carpet and a table.
Cde Chinomona, who is president of the Senate, said the donation came at the right time.
“It is worth noting that this kind gesture could not have come at a more opportune time than this one when there has been increasing and critical conversations around neo-natal and maternal health care across the world,” she said.
“I am sure you are all aware that there have been increasing calls to reduce the use of synthetic and artificial formulas as a substitute for breastfeeding. For Zimbabwe, breastfeeding is pivotal in the drive towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the national Vision 2030. Breastfeeding improves nutrition under SDG three, prevents child mortality and reduces risks of communicable diseases and supports cognitive development and education under SDG four.
“But more importantly, through the (ZICSOSUNA) initiative to establish Family Friendly Rooms, Zimbabwe has received the proverbial shot in the arm to reinforce its unwavering commitment to achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls,” said Cde Chinomona.
She said there was a need to fight stereotyping that accompanies breastfeeding in public by pulling down the veil of ignorance, stigma and discrimination through strategic community engagement activities. ZICSOSUNA acting chairperson Dr Tonderayi Matsungo said the donation came after a realisation that most work places do not provide conducive environments to breastfeed, express and store milk.
“Zimbabwe is a breastfeeding nation and the Ministry of Health and Child Care recommends that women must practice exclusive breastfeeding — that is giving breast milk only to infants for the first six months of life and continue to breastfeed their babies until they are at least 24 months old,” said Dr Matsungo.
“This has been a challenge among many working women taking into consideration that they only have 98 days of maternity leave and most working environments do not provide privacy for women to express their milk and facilities to store it.”
As a result, he said, some lactating mothers end up expressing and discarding breast milk in toilets.
“Such practices are denying young ones the right to the most important source of food which is breast milk, which has the right quality and quantity of nutrients that babies need.”