In July 2014, the International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) announced a new vision: World health transformed through breastfeeding and skilled lactation care. ILCA’s mission remains the same: Advancing the IBCLC profession worldwide. Out of this new vision have emerged three distinct pathways to help champion the ILCA member and make more relevant the IBCLC Profession in the global arena: establishing partnerships, mentoring developing organizations and creating equity and diversity.
Recognizing the obligation to advance the IBCLC profession worldwide and locally, ILCA has set a new course to extend our global outreach to all IBCLCs.
ILCA has long had relationships with other organizations. ILCA is a non-governmental organization (NGO) in official relationship with the United Nations (UN) and World Health Organization (WHO). ILCA is a core partner of World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA). ILCA provides official representatives to Codex Alimentarius, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Health Assembly (WHA), and WHO National Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) Coordinators of Industrial Countries. These relationships are strong, and provide opportunity to keep breastfeeding and skilled lactation care in the forefront of the work of these organizations.
ILCA is launching a new initiative by reaching out to like-minded national and regional organizations within the lactation community. The focus of this effort is twofold: to define a formal relationship with global partners and to forge a collaborative network of organizations committed to expanding the reach and impact of the IBCLC profession worldwide. Currently, 21 entities have expressed interest in establishing a formal relationship with ILCA. As this number grows, we anticipate that a more coordinated and collaborative approach to expanding breastfeeding education and services will simultaneously advance the profession and amplify a common voice on the global stage.
Mentoring Developing Organizations
A second important element of ILCA’s global outreach effort is the plan to help foster developing organizations at the local and regional level. Small groups of IBCLCs throughout the world looking for help in moving to the next level are emerging daily. Most lack resources, infrastructure and direction. ILCA plans to serve as the catalyst for these aspiring organizations so they too may help grow the IBCLC profession and become active partners within the breastfeeding community.
Creating Equity and Diversity
Perhaps the most critical pathway to achieving ILCA’s vision rests in our ability to do our part to help create a culture within the field of breastfeeding that truly values equity and diversity. The first lactation summit sponsored jointly by IBLCE, ILCA and LEAARC: Addressing Inequities Within the Lactation Profession was an important step in identifying the barriers to equity and diversity in the profession. The next steps involve training, systematic analysis and strategic planning and the development of action plans to identify and implement the revisions necessary to create equity and diversity within the IBCLC profession.
Recently Cynthia Good Mojab, a member of the 2014 summit design committee, pointed out in her recent commentary entitled Pandora’s Box is Already Open: Answering the Ongoing Call to Dismantle Institutional Oppression in the Field of Breastfeeding that “Every organization that is committed to eliminating inequity in the field of breastfeeding must identify, dismantle, and re-create policies, procedures, practices, customs, and structures in which institutional oppression is encoded.” If we are to overcome these barriers, we must contribute to the creation of a culture of acceptance of the critical importance of equity and diversity. She also stated, “…it’s going to be difficult and we need to have a long-term, big picture outlook. We have much to learn and much to do” (email communication, October 2014).
The Journey Ahead
From many angles, the journey before us appears challenging—from others, exhilarating. ILCA is excited to be part of an initiative to expand and strengthen the global network of breastfeeding organizations within the IBCLC community. Likewise, reaching out to those previously unheard voices to join ILCA on this journey holds great promise. If you are in need of help to organize and inspire those around you to join this cause, we encourage you to contact ILCA today and let us help you create new opportunities for breastfeeding and lactation care in your community or region. Finally, it is only through our collective efforts to build a culture of acceptance of the importance of equity and diversity that the lactation community can realize the global impact needed to truly transform world health. Together we can create a profession that is open to all, reflects and effectively responds to the diversity of people/needs/communities, and creates support for each of us to do the work we love, so together we can transform world health through breastfeeding and skilled lactation care.
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