New EALA policy out to provide for legislators` maternity leave

                                                                         EALA Speaker, Margaret Zziwa

The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) is set to come up with a gender policy that will accommodate women lawmakers’ issues including making them enjoy their reproductive roles as well as getting maternity leaves.

EALA Speaker Margaret Zziwa revealed this here yesterday when speaking at a regional workshop for EALA women MPs and chairpersons of the women parliamentary caucus.

Without divulging the exact timeframe for the policy to come in, Zziwa said that the move came at the time when three members of the past EALA delivered and were denied the right to get a two-month leave before and three-month after delivering.

“This was because, our parliament had no special policy to accommodate women’s requirements,” she said, adding that among the women EALA members there are people with special disabilities who also need to be given special care and attention.

“When it comes to other amenities, how adequate are they? Are our lavatories enough? You should appreciate that the women lavatories take the whole person whilst those for men are essentially just peep-in (urinals). With the growing number of women, how adequate are our toilets?”

She said that the proposed policy will also provide a room for male EALA members to get maternity leave, when their spouses delivered so as to give them opportunity to assist them in early days after delivery.

“We have learnt from the past mistakes as our colleague members as they were forced to use their own money, as there were no policies in place to assist them,” Zziwa stated.

Among the issues in the proposed policy, include the fight against HIV/Aids, where the matter will be openly discussed in the EALA sessions as well as putting in lavatories all facilities needed in the fight against the deadly disease such as male and female condoms.

“EAC has indeed supported the legal framework on HIV/Aids but when it comes to simple things which can be HIV/Aids fight compliant, they may be absent. Take for example the health insurance package we have, does it cater for the HIV/Aids conditions?

How do we stand when it comes to the policy on condom use? In many international organisations’ lavatories, you will find a condom dispenser but the one at EALA women or even men lavatories collapsed long time ago! Are we practicing what we preach?” she queried.

In her testimony, one of Uganda’s EALA members, Nusura Tiperia said one day she was denied to board a plane when she had a sixth-month pregnancy, as the pilot demanded the need of having a medical doctor to look after her, at the time of emergency.

“So, there must be a policy that takes care of pregnant women and other related social problems,” she suggested.


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