Kwale County Woman Representative Hon. Zulekha Hassan on 16th February 2020 officially launched the National Construction Authority’s Mothers Room at its Upper Hill Headquarters, in a ceremony that celebrated one of the first such facilities in a government institution.
The ceremony was attended by members of NCA’s top management, as well as Women in Real Estate President Robyn Emmerson and Vice President Emma Miloyo, State Department for Gender (Nairobi) representative Pamela Karimi and Nairobi City County Gender Affairs representative Mercy Murugi.
NCA General Manager, Corporate Affairs Mr. James Kilonzi highlighted the Authority’s commitment to stakeholder relationships, which were critical to the success of Authority operations. WIRE, upon learning of the Authority’s plans to create a Mothers Room at its offices, organized a competition for Architecture students, in order to expose the younger generation of designers. NCA sponsored the competition, and the winning team’s design was used to create the current space.
NCA Human Resource Manager Paul Kariuki noted that the Authority’s young population means that inevitably the workforce is composed of new parents, and the presence of a Mothers Room means higher productivity as the welfare of the breastfeeding mothers was taken into consideration.
The Authority ‘s Human Resource Policy on the welfare of employees, recognizes the importance of promoting employee well- being in the work place. It is therefore committed to providing services and benefits that not only motivate employees but also inspire to become more productive. The Mothers Room is also aligned to the The Breastfeeding Mothers Bill of 2019 and Health Act of 2017, which provide for the right of an infant to exclusively breastfeed for six months. It also places an obligation on the employer to provide breastfeeding working mothers with rooms to either breastfeed or express their milk. The Breastfeeding Bill further provides for the standards of such rooms.
Hon. Hassan lauded NCA for setting the pace, and called on the regulator to instill the same culture in work spaces which were currently being constructed or even those in existence.
“I have borne three children during my terms serving in Parliament, and I know firsthand what it means not to have such a facility,” she said. “. Breastfeeding is a basic human right and the foundation of human existence, yet it remains a global problem. Women are asked to choose between career and family, which should never be the case Breastfeeding is critical to the growth of a child’s organs, especially the brain. A Mothers’ Room ensures an increase in productivity for the mothers, as well as loyalty to the organization.”
She added, “My request to NCA is to promote the Mothers Room to a full crèche, where parents can leave their children and be able to attend to their duties in the workplace. Further, the Authority should play its part in ensuring all commercial properties have this facility.”
Arch. Miloyo added that with the ongoing stakeholder participation workshops for the Draft National Building Regulations (Building Code) 2020, it was an opportune time to include Mothers’ Rooms in the basic standards for all commercial workplaces.
The benefits of a Mothers Room and crèche in any organization includes reduction of the amount of leave requests made to attend doctor’s appointments for both mother and child, increased productivity and employee, reduction of maternity related absenteeism which can translate into 30-70% of all absences, increased retention of female workers and overall reduced employee turnover rates, eliminating the need to hire, train or retrain new staff.
One of the biggest hurdles many companies face is a lack of awareness of the needs of breastfeeding employees, and the basic steps that can be taken to support them.
NCA Registration and Compliance General Manager Qs. Susan Ruto reiterated that the Authority would continue to champion the construction of inclusive workspaces