By Tobias Lengnan Dapam
The United Nations Children’s Fund ( UNICEF) has called for investments in family friendly policies that lead to child development.
This is even as UN agency said almost two-thirds of the world’s children under 1 year old – nearly 90 million – live in countries where their fathers are not entitled by law to a single day of paid paternity leave.
The organization stated this while calling for investment in family-friendly policies that support early childhood development including paid paternity and maternity leave, free pre-primary education, and paid breastfeeding breaks.
UNICEF in a statement issued yesterday by its Communication Specialist, Eva Hinds said “Ninety-two countries do not have national policies in place that ensure new fathers get adequate paid time off with their newborn babies, including India and Nigeria – which all have high infant populations.
“In comparison, other countries with high infant populations, including Brazil and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, all have national paid paternity leave policies – albeit offering relatively short-term entitlements. This contrasts with just 8 countries (including the United States) that do not have a policy on paid maternity leave.
“Positive and meaningful interaction with mothers and fathers from the very beginning helps to shape children’s brain growth and development for life, making them healthier and happier, and increasing their ability to learn.”
The statement also said evidence suggests that when fathers bond with their babies from the beginning of life, they are more likely to play a more active role in their child’s development.
It added that research also suggests that when children positively interact with their fathers, they have better psychological health, self-esteem and life-satisfaction in the long-term.
“By implementing national family-friendly policies that support early childhood development, including paid paternity leave, the Government can provide parents the time, resources and information they need to care for their children,” said Mohamed Malick Fall, Representative of UNICEF Nigeria.
“The Government’s recent commitment to extend maternity leave from 12 to 16 weeks indicates to me that the momentum for family-friendly policies in Nigeria is growing,” Fall added. “Investments in the provision of support services to caregivers as well as quality pre-primary education and good nutrition for children are investments in healthy and productive future Nigerian generations.”