Gabriela Women’s Party filed today a bill extending the allowed maternity leave from the current period of 60 days for normal deliveries and 78 days for caesarean section deliveries to as much as 120 days, as recommended by the International Labor Organization Convention 183 on Maternity Protection.
Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan, along with representatives from the Alliance of Concernted Teachers, Education International Philippines, the National Alliance of Teachers and Office Workers, Teachers’ Organization of the Philippine Public Sector and the Trade Federation-FFW, led the filing of the bill, stressing the urgency for legislation towards the protection of mothers and infants.
“Our country lags behind our neighbors in terms of granting maternity benefits and protection to women workers. This measure will help address the maternal and infant mortality rates in our country and ensure the health of both mother and child,” explained Rep. Ilagan.
Ilagan cited studies from the Health alliance for Democracy stating that ten mothers die daily due to pregnancy and childbirth. Infant Mortality was recorded at 25 per 1,000 live births in 2005, while maternal mortality was 162 per 100,000 live births in 2006. The Philippines ranks 84th out of 179 countries with available data on infant mortality rate.
The Gabriela solon further said that the Philippines, along with Malaysia, ranks lowest in South East Asia in providing for maternity health care, in terms of the length of period of maternity leave benefits. Vietnam allows 120-180 days while Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and Laos allows as much as 90 days.
“Extending the period for maternity leave will not only give mothers the opportunity to fully recover, it will also give them the chance to breastfeed infants during the first four months.” The WHO recommends a 4-month period for exclusive breastfeeding.
Main authors of the measure, Gabriela Reps. Ilagan and Liza Maza, hope that the bill will be given due attention and approval in the light of granting relief and benefits to women workers amid high prices and the worsening economic and food crisis.
Historically, the 1952 Women and Children Labor Law granted twelve (12) weeks (or 84 days) maternity leave for pregnant women, four weeks prior to delivery and eight weeks after delivery. In 1974, Presidential Decree (P.D.) 442, or the Labor Code of the Philippines , reduced the period of maternity leave from 12 weeks to six (6) weeks (or 42 days), two weeks before delivery and four weeks after delivery. This was again increased by Republic Act (R.A). 7322, to sixty (60) calendar days for a normal delivery and seventy-eight calendar days in the case of Caesarian operation.