Colombia’s Congress and President Juan Manuel Santos approved a bill that extends maternity leave by one month.
This means that the mother-child relationship will now have 18 weeks of time that is crucial to its development. This change takes Colombia one step further in following the recommendations of official authorities in this matter such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labor Organization, making Colombia among the leading nations that are securing this right in Latin America.
In addition to other factors, the extension of the María Act (as maternity leave is referred to), also seeks to reinforce the practice of breastfeeding during the child’s the first six months of life. According to WHO, breastfeeding fosters sensory and cognitive development, protects infants from infectious and chronic diseases, and contributes to the health and wellbeing of mothers.
The María Act also strengthens the tie between mother and child by supporting their other activities and forms of care, and by giving them the opportunity to establish a solid foundation where children can grow up feeling secure and confident in themselves. “With what they see and learn, the act of providing basic needs such as changing diapers and protecting a child from the cold gives babies the tools to begin to develop their own self-esteem through their relationship with others,” explains psychologist Ana María Carmona.
If you are expecting, speak with your employer or with your health promoting entity (EPS, Spanish acronym) to learn about the benefits that maternity leave covers and how to request it.
Keep in mind:
Bulgaria and Lithuania are the countries with the longest maternity leave: two years. Following them with one year of leave are Albania, Switzerland and Norway. In Latin America, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic are the nations that provide the shortest amount leave with four and six weeks, respectively.