Maternity protection: Not just a personal issue

November 25th, 2012

Many countries have ratified ILO conventions on maternity protection, but pregnant women still face workplace discrimination. Marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (November 25), the ILO publishes guidelines on how to implement maternity protection policies – Published on ILO, Nov. 23, 2012.

GENEVA (ILO News) – Six months into her pregnancy, it was becoming increasingly difficult for Liani* to endure hours of standing at her production line job in a plastics factory in Indonesia.

Her back ached and her body felt weak with tiredness, but with no special provision for pregnant workers, she had to continue.  

Night shifts were even worse: Since the company does not provide transport, the only way to get to work along the bumpy road between her home and the factory, was on the back of her husband’s motorbike

“In October, I was six months pregnant,” she told ILO News. “One day I felt sick and I asked the company for leave time to go to the doctor. In the night the baby was born. It lived for two hours.”

“The doctor told me afterwards that it was because I was too tired. I was standing for too long at work and on the way to the factory on the back of the motorbike, the road was very broken and bumpy. It affected my pregnancy.”

Liani’s experience is not uncommon. She says another woman at the factory died in childbirth. The baby did not survive.

A problem in all types of countries: … //

… Impact on development:

To tie in with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the ILO, in collaboration with a number of other UN agencies, has published guidelines to help organizations, government ministries, workers and employers organizations strengthen and extend maternity protection to women at work.

The aim of such protection is to preserve the health of the mother and her new baby and to provide economic security for the women and their families. This can be achieved through maternity leave, cash and medical benefits, health protection in the workplace, employment protection and non-discrimination, and breastfeeding at work.

But it is not just about helping individuals, said Addati. Maternity protection has a significant impact on development, and research shows that it is of benefit to employers as well as employees because it helps companies and organizations retain valuable staff.

“Maternity protection is important in the fight against poverty, social inclusion, gender equality and maternal and child health. There is a link between the level of spending on family friendly policies, the level of employment of women and the level of child poverty,” Addati said.

“That’s why maternity protection is not just a personal issue. It helps achieve a number of global development goals, so we are talking about collective responsibility. Governments, employers and workers need to work together in a social dialogue so we can find solutions that meet the needs of all parties.”
(full text).

Comments are closed.