World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action

The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action has the Task Force on Women and Work, headed by Ontario-based anthropologist Penny Van Esterik, who sets out a definition of the dilemma in WABA’s mother-friendly workplace initiative action folder, Women, Work, and Breastfeeding.  (In 1992 WABA launched a mother-friendly workplace campaign identifying workplaces that support breastfeeding women.)  The piece calls for a redefinition of the way in which work is traditionally viewed – that is, from the male perspective.  “Can we create a woman-centered approach to work,” she asks, “that values women’s productive and reproductive work, and reduces the double burdens women carry?”  Such an approach would acknowledge pregnancy, breastfeeding, and childcare as socially meaningful and productive work, and recognize the social support necessary for optimal breastfeeding.  Men share the resp0nsibility for providing this support in the home and the workplace.”  The folder also provides suggestions on how to create a mother-friendly workplace:

TIME
1.  Provide at least four months paid maternity leave (with an ideal of six months) that begins after the baby is born.  Offer other options such as longer maternity leave with partial pay.
2.  Offer flexible work hours to breastfeeding women such as part-time schedules, longer lunch breaks, and job sharing.
3.  Provide breastfeeding breaks of at least an hour a day.

SPACE/PROXIMITY
1.  Support infant and childcare at or near the workplace, and provide transportation for mothers to join their babies.  For rural worksites and seasonal work, use mobile childcare units.
2.  Provide comfortable, private facilities for expressing and storing breast milk.
3.  Keep the work environment clean and safe from hazardous wastes and chemicals.

SUPPORT
1.  Inform women workers and unions about maternity benefits and provide information to support women’s health.
2.  Ensure that mothers have full job security.
3.  Encourage coworkers and management to have a positive attitude toward breastfeeding in public.
4.  Encourage a network of supportive women in unions or workers’ groups who can help women to combine breastfeeding and work.

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~ by cmb0414 on August 22, 2010.

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