“Breastfeeding is a matter of human rights for both mothers and children,” say United Nations experts in an unprecedented joint statement today. Gaps identified by the UN mirror many of the gaps identified in the recently published World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative (WBTi) report on the state of breastfeeding in the UK, specifically:
- Gaps in knowledge and skills among healthcare providers (WBTi Indicator 5)
- Lack of access to accurate information or support (WBTi Indicators 6 and 7)
- Family, community, and cultural practices and traditions that are not necessarily pro-breastfeeding (WBTi Indicator 7)
- Limited or non-existent maternity protection in the workplace (WBTi Indicator 4)
- Misleading marketing of breastmilk substitutes, and the lack of corporate accountability for the adverse consequences of such marketing practices (WBTi Indicator 3)
- In cases where a woman cannot breastfeed or is not willing to do so, even after having been duly informed about the benefits of breastfeeding, access to good quality breast milk substitutes should be regulated and affordable, without condemnation or judgment (WBTi Indicators 3, 5, 7)
- Investments to support breastfeeding are often marginal and far from adequate (WBTi Indicator 1)
Previous UN recommendations specific to the UK also included the recommendation to systematically collect data on infant and children’s food and diet (WBTi Indicator 10).
Human rights, and the UK’s obligations under the Convention of the Rights of the Child, underpin the WBTi UK Report, which states: “The mother and the baby are a dyad, and they have rights as a dyad; [neither trumps the other]. Each has explicit rights; both mother and baby require protection and support to make successful breastfeeding a reality.”
UN Special Rapporteurs on the Right to Food, Right to Health, the Working Group on Discrimination against Women in law and in practice, and the Committee on the Rights of the Child issued the statement through the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights today.