In 1990, a group of policy and decision-makers, advocates and activists came together and produced a framework to protect, promote and support breastfeeding – the Innocenti Declaration 1990. The Declaration called on all governments to create an enabling environment for women to be able to breastfeed exclusively. For that to exist, a strategic and coordinated global effort is required. Diverse actors working at multiple levels need also to work together to bring about social change.
This global vision and ambition led to the formation of the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) on 14th February 1991, in no small measure aided by key champions at the UNICEF headquarters in New York. WABA started life seemingly fully formed, as a network of networks, connecting dedicated individuals and effective organisations committed to working on protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding. WABA was needed to connect high hopes with communities, to give voice to civil society and to galvanise social mobilisation around the world.
A year later, Anwar Fazal and the UNICEF team realised that there was a need to create a unique unifying social mobilisation event that can build solidarity and action. Thus was the World Breastfeeding Week started in 1992. Over the years, the WBW themes have focused on a variety of issues and has become the largest galvanising opportunity on the issue of breastfeeding. It helps to make the voices of local advocates heard and for us to collectively shape global priorities. WBW embodies the core purpose of WABA – to strengthen and bring cohesion to the global breastfeeding movement based on concerted action.
In 2016, WABA began its 15-year alignment with the campaign to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The simple act of breastfeeding, an act so vital at the start of life, if protected, promoted and supported, can contribute to a change in attitude and behaviour and create conditions that pave the way for sustainable development.
In this complex interdependent world, we can only achieve sustainable development by working together. The World Breastfeeding Week’s 25th year in 2017 celebrates working together for the common good! Striving together for sustainable development is essential to increasing breastfeeding rates globally.
Together, let’s campaign for a generation and commit to achieving the SDGs by 2030!