Maternity entitlements in Nigeria: policies and practices
Despite globally accepted knowledge on the benefits of breastfeeding and the contribution of maternity entitlements to increasing rates of exclusive breastfeeding, there has been little research on how maternity or paternity leave is practiced in Nigeria, the labour force’s level of compliance, or the government’s level of enforcement in workplaces. In 2019, the Federal Ministry of Health, Alive & Thrive, and the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) sought to fill this gap by conducting a study of maternity and paternity leave entitlements and workplace lactation policies and practices; those offered and received in the public and private sectors, and the informal sector.
The study provides a new understanding of both the workplace policies—in the public and private sectors—that affect working parents and the potential implications of extending maternity leave to six months, the global recommendation. It analyses current policies and programs for protecting and supporting breastfeeding among working mothers in Nigeria and identifies critical knowledge gaps and the range of measures currently being taken for maternity entitlements, and how policies are being implemented. The study shows clearly that concerted action on the part of the public and private sectors could save thousands of lives and save trillions of naira—public officials, company managers, advocates and others have numerous opportunities, outlined in the recommendations of this study, to achieve significant gains for the entire population.