Africa

Kenyan law brings in breastfeeding stations in offices

Lucia Kagotha holds her new born baby boy, named 'Obama' in honour of the US President Barack Obama, at the Mbagathi Hospital of Nairobi on July 26, 2015 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A previous attempt to bring in a breastfeeding law was blocked by companies who threatened to stop employing women

Kenya's parliament has approved a bill which would force companies to set aside special breastfeeding areas for employees with children.

The breastfeeding stations would include breast pumps for expressing milk and fridges.

The bill also states that employers must give time for women to breastfeed.

Rachel Nyamai, the MP who proposed the bill, said it will help women work and at the same time improve children's health.

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The law is not about dealing with a stigma around breastfeeding because breastfeeding in public areas is considered normal, says the BBC's Angela Ngendo in Nairobi.

Instead it's about making companies provide a conducive environment for working mothers, our correspondent adds.

Currently it is extremely rare for organisations in Kenya to have specific areas for women to breastfeed their children.

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One employer who does already provide creche and breastfeeding facilities is the mobile network Safaricom.

The director of human resources told the BBC that introducing the facilities had improved productivity.

"We are very big on doing new things and for that to happen you must create an environment where employees feel comfortable," said Maria Shipiri.

The same proposal was rejected by the previous parliament after business groups threatened to stop employing women if forced to provide breastfeeding facilities.

The Health Bill 2015 now needs the president's assent to become law.

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