Breastfeeding and gender equality

Advocacy brief

Breastfeeding and gender equality


Breastfeeding protects the health and well-being of mothers and babies.

Breastfeeding gives infants the healthiest start to life by stimulating brain development and acting as a baby’s first vaccine. Breastfeeding leads to lower health care costs, healthier families and a smarter workforce.

Breastfeeding is also critically important for mothers, protecting and improving their health and providing them with greater reproductive freedom.

Women face multiple barriers to breastfeeding in the home, community, health care system and workforce. Indeed, millions of mothers around the world stop breastfeeding before they want to because they do not get the support and time they need to continue.

To better support them, we need to invest in programmes and policies that put women’s rights, dignity and choice at the centre. Supporting a woman’s right to breastfeed is a measure of gender equality—and building a breastfeeding-friendly society is everyone’s responsibility.

Led by UNICEF and WHO, the Global Breastfeeding Collective is a partnership of more than 20 prominent international agencies calling on donors, policymakers, philanthropists and civil society to increase investment in breastfeeding worldwide.

The Collective’s vision is a world in which all mothers have the technical, financial, emotional and public support they need to breastfeed. The Collective advocates for smart investments in breastfeeding programmes, assists policymakers and NGOs in implementing solutions, and galvanizes support to get real results to increase rates of breastfeeding, thereby benefiting mothers, children and nations.

Breastfeeding and gender equality
Global Breastfeeding Collective, UNICEF, WHO
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