A new scheme guaranteeing the full pay of employed mothers who are on maternity leave in Rwanda is now fully operational. According to the New Times, the Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) has approved the scheme requiring mothers to take a three-month paid leave.
The scheme is welcome news to working mothers, who now have the legal right to take care of their infants, while receiving full pay and without fear of losing their jobs.
Chantal Mukarutabana, the teachers’ representative at Rwanda Education Trade Union, said that the new scheme is essential in the development and health of both the child and mother.
According to the Rwandan Ministry of Health, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should improve the nutritional health of their children in the first 1,000 days of their lives, starting from conception.
This was the message behind its 1,000-day sensitization campaign held last year by the Rwanda Biomedical Center.
Under the new scheme, working mothers who have contributed to the plan for at least one month will be eligible to receive benefits.
Both the working mother and her employer are expected to equally contribute to the maternity leave benefits scheme on a monthly basis, totaling 0.6 percent of the employee’s gross working salary.
RSSB, whose role is to implement the scheme, will cover six weeks of the paid leave starting from the seventh week.
All employees and every employer in Rwanda are required to make contributions to the scheme, regardless if they’re in the private or public sector.
According to the provisions of the law, the employer declares and remits collected contribution to the Social Security Administration no later than 15th of every month.
The Director of Public Relations and Communication at RSSB, Moses Kazoora, said they will carry out extensive sensitization to ensure efficient implementation of the scheme.
Dominique Bicamumpaka, the president of one of the country’s largest unions, the National Congress for Labor and Fraternity, said the implementation of the new maternity leave scheme is a demonstration of the solidarity that is characteristic of the Rwandan people.
When a woman gave birth in the past, the community would collect firewood and make fire to keep the ‘maternity ward’ warm for the benefit of the mother and child and would provide her with porridge and food to eat during postnatal period to get enough breast milk.
All that was done in reward for the mother as she had given birth for Rwanda. Indeed, the mother was weak after birth and she needed support.
BY CAROLINE THEURI.