We must employ pregnant, breastfeeding women, and mothers

Asmaou Bah sets an example, SYNEM-Guinea


We must employ pregnant, breastfeeding women, and mothers:
Asmaou Bah sets an example 

Asmaou Bah Doukouré, the general secretary of SYNEM-Guinea, the national domestic workers’ union that promotes the material and moral interests of domestic workers, arrived at her house. She saw the beautiful scene of a mother bathing her child. It was Djeinabou Diallo, the live-in domestic worker employed in her household with her daughter. She encouraged her to participate in the International Domestic Workers’ Federation artwork competition by submitting a picture of this moment of family bonding.

The picture represents one of the multiple burdens carried by women, because on top of being a full time carer for her child, Djeinabou is also an employee performing a shift as a mother and a shift as a domestic worker, neither of which are easy jobs. Having the child at her workplace eases her days: “It is the love of this mother and child that exists against the difficulties of life.”

Almost everywhere, most employers do not accept hiring pregnant or breastfeeding women, let alone women who have their children with them. When employers understand that women with children are entitled to jobs, it is a big step into the right direction. As a union leader, Asmaou employed Djeinabou while she was still breastfeeding her daughter in order to encourage other employers to do the same. In Guinea, the labor law does not discriminate against mothers in employment, but does discriminate against domestic workers. Aside from legal protections that are required for domestic workers with children, Asmaou speaks of the individual will to change. “We lack practice,” she said. “Employers often lay-off pregnant domestic workers thinking that once the child arrives, these women will no longer be able to take care of the household and will spend their time with their child instead.” However, Asmaou knows for certain that domestic workers are competent workers that impeccably perform their jobs while their children are with them and in live-in contexts. Asmaou jokes: “It is maybe not just the law, but the law of the cruel nature of some people that must end.” Asmaou encourages labor unionists to set an example to counter the bad practices in their sector. 

Through awareness raising, the  Syndicat National des Employés de Maison de Guinée (SYNEM-GUINÉE)  encourages workers to better their life conditions. They outreach to workers through the mainstream media, social media, and even door-to-door action. Since the spread of COVID-19, with the help of the IDWF, SYNEM started to reach out to even more workers in remote areas to assist them with their immediate livelihoods and survival, in light of the massive job-losses. Djeinabou is one example. She is not only a mother and a domestic worker, but also a unionist. She named her daughter who is with her in the picture in honor of Asmaou Bah, as prior to her employment, SYNEM’s General Secretary has taken care of her while pregnant.

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