The Ondo State government on Wednesday announced the extension of maternity leave to six months as part of efforts to ensure total child development.

The State Head of Service, Pastor Kayode Ogundele, said this while receiving members of the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Ondo State chapter, in his office in Akure.

Hitherto nursing mothers were given three months maternity leave in the state,

Ogundele said the move was to build a society where children raised had all that was required in terms of maternal care.

According to him, medical experts affirm that breast feeding should be exclusive in the first six months.

The head of service said that the decision was to enable mothers to give their newborn babies adequate attention during the leave period, saying such mothers would be more focused and productive when they resume work as all the initial child-raising challenges would have been addressed sufficiently during the leave period.

He said the current government’s efforts were aimed at providing a better society for women and had also recently established the agency for the Protection Against Gender Violence.

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“This is in addition to the full-fledged Ministry of Women Affairs to address women and children related issues,’’ the HoS said, and commended the complementary roles of FIDA to ameliorate the plights of women and children in the society.

“FIDA, you have been doing a great job. We have been seeing your roles in terms of activism, advocacy and other things you have been doing to help the vulnerable in the society.

“It is a good job and we pray God will strengthen you to keep it up,” he said, and

pledged the continued support of his office to ensure female lawyers and other categories of officers get whatever was due to them in the service of the state.

Earlier in her remarks, the State Chairperson of FIDA, Mrs Catherine Ogunjebi, advocated for the elimination of some encumbrances in the administration of maternity leave irrespective of marital status.

Ogunjebi also used the occasion to appeal for the elevation of female lawyers in the service of the state to the position of Permanent Secretaries.