Breastfeeding and work – Let’s make it work!

8th October 2015
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)