taken from here
Dear Yang Amat Berhormat Dato' Sri Najib Tun Razak,
We, the undersigned Malaysian citizen strongly support the initiative by the National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE) to increase the existing paid maternity leave from 60 to 90 days.
The role of a modern woman has become more varied and challenging than, say, 30 years ago. Most women today juggle the demands of a full-time job with their traditional role of home-maker so that they help to sustain a decent standard of living.
As a home-maker, a woman bears the heavy burden of raising children, managing the household and ensuring her family’s overall wellbeing. With this in mind, the least the government should do is ensure the full recovery of a woman’s physical, emotional and mental state after delivering a child.
Many Southeast Asian nations have moved forward along with the Recommendation of the ILO Convention 103 – Maternity Protection Convention (Revised), 1952. The revised Convention 183 of 2000 considered 7 maternity protections; let’s do a regional comparison of just the basic protection: Statutory maternity leave in Southeast Asia:
· Singapore – 112 days (16 weeks)
· Thailand – 90 days (3 months)
· Cambodia – 90 days
· Indonesia – 90 days
· Malaysia – 60 days(Source: www.asianfoodworker.net)
Some Southeast Asian countries even provide breastfeeding and child care protection. For example a mother in Singapore gets up to 12 months leave to breastfeed and care for her newborn. In Cambodia, companies are obliged to grant a new mother a 30-minute break twice daily to breastfeed her child. Those with more than 100 women workers have to provide nursing rooms and day care centers, with the cost of childcare borne by the company. Indonesian employers meanwhile are required to provide a suitable place for breastfeeding mothers to nurse their children during work hours.
These are but some of the instances of protection for women workers afforded under the ILO convention.
Malaysia, unfortunately, is lagging far behind and there is a pressing need to amend the relevant provision in the Employment Act 1955.
The 60-day paid maternity leave is simply not enough for most Malaysian women.
Why? A women who goes through the delivery of a child suffers not just physically but emotionally and mental too.
Post-natal depression (PND), a health issue - 1 in 3 new mothers, or 10%, suffer PND which is a less understood form of depression. Women with this medical disorder are either not ready to work or feel they cannot return to work yet. The problems usually start within a few weeks or months of giving birth. Over 50% of mothers develop the disorder within the first 3 months.
Further, for about 1 in 7 women the ensuing stresses and emotional changes can be intense, and include strong depressive mood swings, anxiety, social withdrawal, irritability and can get highly dysfunctional if severe. PND also interferes with the bonding and attachment process between mother and child. Around 1 in every 10 women has PND after having a baby. Without treatment it can last for months, or quite rarely, years. Recovery takes time.
That is not all; breastfeeding (bonding) – holding a full-time job while still breastfeeding is tough partly because workplaces do not meet the needs of nursing mothers. Breastfeeding itself is mutually beneficial for mother and child. It protects against some breast and ovarian cancers because oestrogen levels drop very low while breastfeeding. Research shows the longer a mother breastfeeds, the cancer risk goes lower. Also, if a mother is unable to express milk during the work-day, her breasts will become engorged, resulting in plugged milk ducts which can lead to unbearable pain that may result in breast infection, and she will not be fit to work.
For the child, breast milk provides numerous health and emotional advantages for both mother and child, which are crucial in the initial months of bonding. Breastfeeding protects a newborn from ear infections, colds and viruses, or reduces the severity of the illness. It helps to reduce infant mortality, most of which occurs in the first 100-200 days of a baby’s life. More maternity leave will allow mothers to provide better care for their newborns.
Preparing to return to work is another emotional and mental trauma. The concern for the child’s care, love, affection, nutrition etc occupies the mother’s thoughts rendering her incapable of producing results up to her fullest capacity. Leave alone if the mother has no one to care for the child and has to leave the child at day care centre etc. Her thoughts are not just of the child but also the cost that accompanies the care.
Malaysian women in employment stand at 5.1 million in the total Malaysian workforce of 11.29 million (2009) and a workforce without sufficient maternity leave, are forced to stop work altogether or find it hard to return to work. The social, psychological and medical cost of having women back at work before full physical recovery or connecting with their newborns is immeasurable, and should never be tolerated in a country like Malaysia. Extended maternity leave would give mothers a reasonably sufficient time to bond with and breastfeed their babies without the added financial worries. It will be good for business and the economy because it will help keep skilled, experienced female staff attached to the workforce.
For the employer, offering extended maternity leave indicates to prospective employees that the company cares about their health and relationships with their spouse and children. Maternity leave also encourages highly-qualified people to apply for positions, creating a larger pool of applicants, and enhances the company’s public image among its peers, thus increasing its status within the industry.
A UNDP report in 2005 citing the ILO says Malaysia is among 25 countries out of 152 providing maternity leave for 60 days or less.
We, therefore, wish to petition the Malaysian government to amend the Employment Act 1955 to reflect the extension of the paid maternity leave to 90 days.
Sincerely, The Undersigned:
1. This petition is presented here both in Bahasa Malaysia and in English.
2. Collection of signatures in support of this petition will end on 6th June 2010.
3. If you agree to support this petition, you are required to submit your name, identity card number and state your email address.
4. Names unaccompanied with their identity card numbers, or accompanied by incorrect identity card numbers, will be deleted.
5. Names of those supporting this petition will not be displayed here.6. NUBE will compile the supporting signatures of this “90 Days for Mums” Online Petition and submit it together with a Memorandum to the Honourable Prime Minister of Malaysia and a copy to the 221 Members of Parliament as the voice of 1Malaysian citizen urging for the amendments.