Having a good work-life balance is very important for the well-being of any organization and its employees. The basic idea is that organizations have a responsibility to support their staff in feeling safe, having a balanced private-professional life, having good mental and physical health, and providing an effective and comfortable working environment.
The IITA work-life balance policy and procedures No IITA/3.9/ 01/01/2018 states that: “Work-life balance means different things to different people. However, it is generally accepted as the ability of the staff to both work and life, to allocate his/her time to meet his/her obligation to the organization and be able to attend to other life’s issues of family, friends, career, recreation creativity, etc.”
IITA Rwanda now offers a dedicated “Nursing Room” where all female CGIAR staff in the building can find the necessary facilities and comfort to nurse and rest. The room includes comfortable chairs, a relaxing atmosphere, a fridge, water tap, and shelves to keep the necessary equipment.
Dr Marc Schut, the former IITA Rwanda Country Representative, who initiated this idea highlights: “During our annual staff retreat in early 2020 we discussed work-life balance and one of the issues raised was to provide better facilities and arrangements for nursing for female colleagues. I had already heard stories of CGIAR colleagues nursing in their offices or even under their desks, which is unacceptable. We decided to furnish a dedicated nursing room and make it available to all organizations in our building, including the Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT, CIP and IFPRI, in good One CGIAR spirit. There is a lot of talk about gender and diversity in the workplace, but what really matters is ‘walking the talk’ and making tangible things happen. We hope that IITA Rwanda sets the example so that we can soon find dedicated nursing rooms in all CGIAR offices around the world.”
One of the female staff at IITA Rwanda, Mrs Betty Kigenza, commends the idea of the nursing room in the office, and highlights its importance in her daily work life.
“I first of all would like to highly appreciate Dr Schut for initiating this brilliant idea for us working mothers in CGIAR. this is something you rarely find in organizations. It is a great thought. Nursing moms always get enough milk when they are in a secure, relaxed place where they don’t have to worry about privacy. This room came at the right time when we needed it. So many of us pumped milk, as Marc mentioned, under desks, in a storage room, or just ignore and endure the pain the whole day, resulting in inefficiency at work,” Betty said.
She reiterates: “As a newly breastfeeding mom, the nursing room provides a safe and comfortable haven for me to pump milk and store it. Any time I feel the need, I have a secure place to pump and store the milk, then I go back to work comfortably.”