The 2017 World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) theme is Sustaining Breastfeeding Together. This year’s theme celebrates working together for the common good, which produces sustainable results, greater than the sum of our individual efforts. Join International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) and World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) in observing WBW 1-7 August 2017.
This post is the sixth in a series of #WBW2017 posts offering information and resources to help you celebrate and support breastfeeding, while working toward the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Read the other posts in this series here, here, here, here, and here.
WBW Theme #4: Women’s Productivity and Employment
When breastfeeding has to be combined with paid work, especially under precarious circumstances, the challenges may be overwhelming. The International Labor Organization (ILO) Maternity Protection Convention, 2000 (No. 183) calls for actions and laws in each country to improve maternity protection.
Enacting supportive workplace policies and family-friendly breastfeeding legislation requires a change in cultural attitudes. Breastfeeding and work must begin to be understood as a matter of rights and gender equality. Breastfeeding is part of the reproductive cycle, and women should be able to combine breastfeeding and paid work without discrimination or disadvantage. We must work together to ensure that women in the formal and informal sectors have the parental social protections that they need.
Steps to Success:
1. Advocate for parental social protection for all women in both formal and informal sectors.
One framework for this advocacy is WABA’s Empowering Parents Campaign (EPC), which seeks to champion the active involvement of both men and women by promoting gender equity in both paid and caregiving work.
2. Partner with Trade Unions and employers to ensure collective bargaining agreements that will support working parents.
3. Work with employers to develop family-friendly workplace initiatives and creches at or nearby the workplace.
4. Engage with universities to conduct multidisciplinary research to identify gaps and best practice models.
We must use current data and evidence about breastfeeding support and other maternal protections for women and their families. More research is needed to provide further evidence as to the benefits of breastfeeding protections for families and employers.
5. Get involved in the World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative (WBTi) process in your country.
In 2004, the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) launched the WBTi to assess and monitor implementation of key breastfeeding policies and programs at the national level in participating countries.
6. Develop awareness and attitudinal change campaigns, such as those that seek to normalize breastfeeding in public spaces.
To learn more about how breastfeeding is linked to each of the SDGs in the four thematic areas, read this Lactation Matters post from our 2016 celebration.
For more on how breastfeeding is linked to the theme of Women’s Productivity and Employment, read this Lactation Matters post from our 2016 celebration.