Concept note for Empowering Parents Campaign (EPC) – Advancing Social Protection for Breastfeeding and Work
Women and Work
The issue of Women and Work is about enabling women to successfully combine their reproductive and productive roles. It is a health issue, an economic issue, a labour issue, and a human rights issue. Today, more and more women of child-bearing age are working outside the household, in work that keeps them far from home for long hours and with rigid schedules. Increasingly, women are seen as independent economic units, responsible for their own economic survival and well-being.
WHAT CAN BE DONE – BETTER MATERNITY PROTECTION!
Care work consists of unpaid care for family members and friends, as well as paid care for others. As reproductive labour, care work is necessary to the continuation of every society. Breastfeeding (the behaviour) and lactation (the physiological function of making milk) constitute a type of care work that is unique to women.Mother and child function as a biological unit; the mother’s hormonal, nutritional, and immune systems are physically linked with her child’s through their shared activity of feeding. A gender-equitable division of labour would recognise and accommodate the unique nature of the care work that lactating women do. In order for women to advance their enjoyment of all rights in general, it is essential that the contribution that women make to the economy, both in terms of paid work, and unpaid work in the home or elsewhere, is recognised, supported in multiple ways and compensated monetarily. Social reproduction cannot just be an individual responsibility of the parents or family. It is the collective responsibility of the state, employers and society at large. In general, protection is guaranteed through maternity protection legislation. Maternity benefits are basic human rights for women.