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Breastfeeding and work – Let’s make it work!

World Breastfeeding Week (WBW), which runs from 1-7 August, 2015, focuses this year on the importance of supporting women to combine breastfeeding and work. This includes women working in paid employment, self-employment, seasonal and contract work to unpaid home and care work.

This year’s theme revisits the 1993 WBW campaign on the Mother-Friendly Workplace Initiative. There have been some key achievements and milestones since then to support working women, such as the adoption of the revised ILO Convention 183 on Maternity Protection with much stronger maternity entitlements, and more country actions on improving national laws and practices. More actions have also been taken at the workplace level to set up breastfeeding or mother-friendly workplaces, with initiatives with awards for breastfeeding-friendly employers, as well as greater mass awareness on working women’s rights to breastfeed.

The Innocenti Declaration (1990) recognised that breastfeeding provides ideal nutrition for infants and contributes to their healthy growth and development. Global monitoring on infant and young child feeding progress shows that there is still much to be done to meet the fourth Innocenti Declaration target that calls on governments to “…enact imaginative legislation protecting the breastfeeding rights of working women and establish means for its enforcement”.

With the WBW 2015 campaign, the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) (who coordinate World Breastfeeding Week) and its partners at global, regional, and national levels, aim to empower and support ALL women, working in both the formal and informal sectors, to adequately combine work with child-rearing, particularly breastfeeding.

The objectives of World Breastfeeding Week 2015 are illustrated in the diagram below:

WBW Objectives

Source: © WABA 2015

You can follow the Twitter discussion during WBW by following #WBW2015, and if you're interested in reading more about breastfeeding you can see our Eldis sub-topic guide on breastfeeding, or peruse our selection of blogs and documents below:


Supporting breastfeeding mothers at work in Indonesia, by Sigit Sulistyo, Maternal Child Health and Nutrition Specialist, World Vision, Indonesia

Breastfeeding in today's changing world: are you playing your role?,
by Rufaro Charity Madzima, Independent Consultant on Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF)

Breastfeeding is a human right, but does society truly enable women to breastfeed? by Inka Barnett, Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies (cross-posted from openDemocracy)

More from Eldis on Breastfeeding

Maternity and paternity at work – Law and practice across the world
International Labour Organization 2014
This report provides a picture of where we stand and what we have learned so far about maternity and paternity rights across the world. It offers a rich international comparative analysis of law and practice relating to maternity prot...
Breastfeeding policy: a globally comparative analysis
J. Heymann; A. Raub; A. Earle / World Health Organization 2013
The objective of this paper is to explore the extent to which national policies guaranteeing breastfeeding breaks to working women may facilitate breastfeeding. An analysis was conducted of the number of countries that guarante...
Barriers to Infant and Child-feeding Practices: A Qualitative Study of Primary Caregivers in Rural Uganda
J. Nankumbi; J.K. Muliira / Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition 2015
The purpose of this study was to explore the barriers to the use of appropriate infant and young childfeeding practices by primary caregivers living in a rural Ugandan district. A community-based qualitative design and focus gr...
Impact of a Breastfeeding-Friendly Workplace on an Employed Mother's Intention to Continue Breastfeeding After Returning to Work
S.Y. Tsai 2013
Ever-increasing populations of women in their childbearing years are choosing to become employed. Breastfeeding provides unique health advantages to both the infant and mother. A breastfeeding-friendly workplace might be an important ...
Effect of breastfeeding promotion interventions on breastfeeding rates, with special focus on developing countries
A Imdad; M.Y Yakoob; Z.A Bhutta / BMC Public Health 2011
Given the recognised benefits of breastfeeding for the health of the mother and infants, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) for the first six months of life. However, the prevalence of EBF is ...
Factors affecting actualisation of the WHO breastfeeding recommendations in urban poor settings in Kenya
African Population and Health Research Center, Nairobi, Kenya 2014
Poor breastfeeding practices are widely documented in Kenya, where only a third of children are exclusively breastfed for 6 months and only 2% in urban poor settings. This study aimed to better understand the factors that contribute t...
The state of breastfeeding in 33 countries
A. Gupta (ed); R. Holla (ed); J.P. Dadhich (ed) / World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative 2010
To ensure proper infant feeding practices, women need to be provided with support at all levels. This WBTi (World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative) report assesses infant and young child feeding (IYCF) policies and programmes in 33 cou...
Scaling up breastfeeding in developing countries
Z.A Bhuttaemail; M Labbok / The Lancet 2011
Early and exclusive breastfeeding is widely regarded as an important intervention that reduces neonatal, infant, and child mortality, and remains a basis for child survival strategies. Breastfeeding is also associated with improved ma...
Nutrition: nutrition of women in the preconception period, during pregnancy and the breastfeeding period
World Health Organization 2012
This report argues that taking a life cycle approach and securing good nutritional status for women across the life course will in the long term reduce child underweight and stunting. It argues that around 30% of all women aged 15 to ...
Determinants of Early Initiation, Exclusiveness, and Duration of Breastfeeding in Uganda
E. Bbaale / Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition 2014
Breastfeeding practices in Uganda are contrary to the best practice recommended by World Health Organization (WHO). Only six in 10 Ugandan children below the age of six months are exclusively breastfed. This paper investigated the det...

Read the latest contributions to the Eldis blog on the subject of nutrition.

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