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The need to make paternity leave part of the legal framework has received support from some Members of Parliament in the National Assembly, as has the extension of maternity leave.

The motion to extend maternity leave and introduce paternity leave was earlier tabled by the Popular Democratic Movement's (PDM) Winnie Moongo.

Landless People's Movement (LPM) Leader Bernadus Swartbooi and PDM's Maximalliant Katjimune also made their contributions to the discussion.

"The beauty of our legislative process and the reason we refer motions to relevant standing committees is for them to go deeper into these matters. Paternity leave is not a new concept," said Katjimune.

"I think as a society we should wake up to this over-emphasising one gender's need and under-emphasising another; no society was brought about by women alone, just as no society was brought about by men alone. So, I think for paternity leave, that too should be considered," added Swartbooi. 

The Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations, and Employment Creation, Utoni Nujoma, shed light on the Social Security Commission's initiatives.

"The provisions of extended maternity leave can be considered. The payment of full pay during the period of maternity leave would require an actuarial valuation. The current national legislative framework, in particular the Labour Act (Act No. 1 of 2007), does not cater for paternity leave. The Labour Act (Act No. 1 of 2007) is under review. It is noted that the issue of paternity leave should possibly be included."

Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila announced that the government, as an employer, is exploring ways to improve staff benefits.

"The investigations that we are conducting include paternity leave and the possibility of maternity leave under certain circumstances, because, as was indicated, there are certain circumstances."

The Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr. Utjiua Muinjangue, also stressed the importance of fostering a strong parent-infant bond for mental well-being.

"Special protection is important for pregnant women and women workers who are breastfeeding to prevent harm to their health or the health of their infants or babies. And at the same time, ensure they do not lose their bread simply because of pregnancy or maternity leave. Raising a whole child requires the equal presence of both mother and father, but there are unique roles and impacts women play in the lives of their children, as mothers affect the child's life culturally, socially, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually."

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Serafia Nadunya