MANILA—More than a hundred expectant mothers on Monday held a forum urging the House of Representatives (HoR) to pass the Expanded Maternity Leave Law as it was done in the Senate.
The forum, which was held in Barangay Commonthwealth, Quezon City, was led by Sen. Risa Hontiveros, Laguna 3rd District Rep. Sol Aragones, Akbayan Partylist Rep. Tom Villarin and Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte in a bid to sustain the momentum for the passage of a law.
The law seeks to double the number of paid maternity leave days of women to 120 days with pay and an option to extend it for another 30 days without pay. The 30 days can also be allotted to fathers and alternate caregivers.
Hontiveros, who is also the chair of the Senate Committee on Women, said that contrary to criticism, the passage of an Expanded Maternity Leave law does not mean a vacation for mothers.
“It is not a vacation that mothers and women are asking for but recognition of their role as child-bearers. We want women to have the chance to take care of their children and their health and well-being without worrying about the economic costs of being away from employment,” Hontiveros said.
The neophyte senator further explained that the Expanded Maternity Leave law was at par with international standards and which can truly address the physical, mental and economic burden of pregnancy is long overdue.
“We need a new maternity leave policy that will provide adequate paid maternity leave days for working mothers to fully recover from childbirth, properly care for their child and establish a stronger mother-child bond through breastfeeding,” she added.
Under Hontiveros’ leadership, the Senate has already passed on third and final reading the Expanded Maternity Leave Law of 2017. However, the measure’s counterpart bill in the House of Representatives is still waiting approval from its members.
The Buntis Congress was organized by the offices of Hontiveros and Belmonte in partnership with the Department of Health (DoH)-National Capital Region, Senate Gender and Development Focal Point, House Committee on Women and Gender Equality and Akbayan Women. It provided free medical services for pregnant women such as pre-natal checkup, ultrasound, laboratory examination, dental health care and counselling. A Lamaze session was also conducted.