The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has called on government to invest in family-friendly policies including paid paternity and maternity leave, free pre-primary education, and paid breastfeeding breaks.
In an analyses released by UNICEF on Thursday, about 90 million children under 1 year old, live in countries where fathers are not entitled by law to a single day of paid paternity leave.
“92 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 eight countries (including the United States) that do not have a policy on paid maternity leave,” UNICEF said.
It stated that 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.
“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. 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.”
UNICEF representative in Nigeria, Muhammed Fall said, by implementing national family-friendly policies that support early childhood development, including paid paternity leave, government could provide parents the time, resources and information they need to care for their children.
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