Breastfeeding and Work : Lets Make It Work !

Breastfeeding is one of the important determinants of child health, development, nutrition and survival. Now, more women are working outside the home both in formal and informal sector. Difficulties working women face in practicing breastfeeding are also increasing. It becomes critical to build an enabling system that would allow combining breastfeeding and work. In this context, maternity protection policy is vital for all women; a policy that should entitle all women to work with dignity, and to benefit from respectable work conditions that bar out discrimination based on gender and their reproductive role. The Constitution of India, under article 42, states, “The State shall make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief.” In light of the Constitutional mandate, India has two legislations for working women. One, the Maternity Benefit Act 1961 and second the Employees State Insurance Act, 1948. India has also in place some executive measures based on recommendations of the 6th Pay Commission. Further, the National Food Security Act 2013 recognizes maternity protection a legal right via Section 6 providing for a minimum of Rs. 6000/- to be given as maternity entitlement to all women, which includes women from the unorganized sector. The theme for this year's World Breastfeeding Week is . It revisits the 1993 WBW campaign on the Mother-Friendly Workplace Initiative. It aims to empower and support all women, working in both formal and informal sectors, to optimally combine work with child-rearing, particularly breastfeeding. The theme for 1993 WBW was “Women, work and breastfeeding: Everybody benefits!
  1. Inform people about the available maternity protection entitlements and raise awareness to strengthen the national legislation and implementation. 
  2. To gain multi-dimensional support from all sectors to enable women everywhere to work and breastfeed. 
  3. Promote action by employers to become baby and mother-friendly and actively facilitate and support their women employees to continue breastfeeding. 
  4. Strengthen supportive practices that enable working women in the informal sector to breastfeed.


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