Government to roll out maternity allowance in July- Finance Minister

The government is looking at the possibility of providing maternity allowance and flexi-timing for working mothers after childbirth. This will be under the thousand golden days initiative, which refers to the start of pregnancy to a child’s second birthday. The finance minister shared about the plans at a recent awareness campaign for marginalized groups in Thimphu. The government hopes to address the declining fertility rate in the country.

At the awareness campaign for marginalized groups organised by the Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy, the Finance Minister Namgay Tshering said that once the flexi timing initiative is rolled out, breastfeeding mothers will be able to work from home. Details on the policy has yet to be shared to the public.

“Nowadays, if we ask women about the number of children they have, they tell us that they just have one child. They talk about the challenges they face when they have to raise more than one child. Furthermore, they say that their livelihood would be affected if they stop going to work. We are hoping the initiative will help address the issue,” the minister added.

Most people the BBS talked to are looking forward to the initiative. It has been more than four years since the ruling party, Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa, first promised to provide maternity allowance and ensure conducive environment for mothers to support breastfeeding.

Sonam Dorji, a resident of Thimphu said that most women, even if they want to give birth, face problems in catering to their child’s needs, especially after birth. “The initiative would greatly benefit women and it will also help them give more time to their infants.”

Likewise Rabika Rai who also lives in Thimphu says if working mothers are given a chance to work online, they can do their office work virtually, breastfeed on time and care for their children. “With such an arrangement, our lives would become more comfortable and we can look after our children better.”

Another resident, Santi Maya Gurung said that this initiative would help curb the issue of low fertility rate in Bhutan.

“Population in Bhutan is generally low. The primary reason for most working women not giving birth is that they face problems when it comes to finding someone to look after their children. If the government is going to help us, we can stay home, complete our work and also look after our children,” she added.

The finance minister also said that the government is also working towards providing maternity allowance from July of this year. The government previously cited lack of budget for not being able to implement the maternity policy on several occasions.

The government in 2018 campaigned to provide a maternity allowance for the thousand golden days of a child to all mothers.

Tashi Yangden

Edited by Kipchu

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