The Ekiti State Government on Monday announced an increase in the maternity leave period for women in its public service from 12 weeks to 16 weeks.
The Permanent Secretary in the State Ministry of Information, Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Kola Ajumobi, said this at a public enlightenment forum in Ado Ekiti, the state capital.
He said that the gesture was approved by the state governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, as part of his display of love and special regard for the womenfolk in the state.
He said it was also aimed at encouraging exclusive breastfeeding for newly born children in the first six months of birth.
It is also meant to promote good nutrition for both mothers and their newborn children, he said.
Ajumobi said that nursing mothers would, in addition to the four months, be granted two hours’ off duty every day for a period of six months from the date they resumed from maternity leave.
According to him, the commitment of the Fayose-led administration to the reduction in mothers and children’s mortality and morbidity rate to the barest minimum remains sacrosanct.
Ajumobi said the crèche at the state secretariat had also been invigorated to boost bonding between mothers and their children during official working hours without undue hindrance to performance and efficiency at the workplace.
The permanent secretary lamented that lack of good nutrition; poverty, hunger as well as the lack of access to economic and political empowerment had largely contributed to high maternal and child mortality.
He, however, noted that the present administration in the state would continue to roll out various palliative packages exclusively for women to empower and guard them against avoidable travails.
Ajumobi said such measures already in existence include the provision of N500m as revolving soft-loan to promote small and medium Enterprises driven by women.
Also, women farmers were being supported with various incentives, he said.
According to him, the government has also encouraged women’s access to political power.
Harmful traditional practices to woman’s nutritional and sexual reproductive health, such as widowhood rites and inheritance had become criminal offenses in the state, he said.
He said that rapists and wife beaters now face life sentences in the state.