Breastfeeding: A Key to Sustainable Development - World Breastfeeding Week

World Breastfeeding Week this year is all about finding keys to sustainable development in order to raise awareness of the links between breastfeeding and the Sustainable Development Goals. Check out some of these goals here!

Hey, Mama!

The theme of World Breastfeeding Week 2016 aims to raise awareness of the links between breastfeeding and the Sustainable Development Goals. According to the UNICEF & WHO WBW Message, “breastfeeding is one of the most effective – and cost-effective – ways to save and improve the lives of children everywhere, yielding lifelong health benefits for infants and their mothers.”

“New Sustainable Development Goals aspire to tackle the root causes of poverty and offer a vision of development that works for all people, everywhere.” (source)

But what does this have to do with breastfeeding and why is it so important? New evidence confirms optimal and universal breastfeeding could save the lives of 823,000 children, along with economic savings of over $300 billion annually. (source)

Seems pretty compelling, right? While the World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to six months, with continued breastfeeding for up to two years of age or beyond, the truth is less than 40% of infants under six months of age are exclusively breastfed globally. So by protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding we can begin to change these stats by working together and better achieving sustainable development for generations to come.

World Breastfeeding Week this year is all about finding keys to sustainable development in order to raise awareness of the links between breastfeeding and the Sustainable Development Goals. Check out some of these goals here!

Linking breastfeeding with Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), otherwise known as the Global Goals, are a universal call to action to end poverty. In addition, they also aim to protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. By linking breastfeeding to these 17 Goals, “the breastfeeding movement will be able to connect with a variety of development issues over the next 15 years for maximum impact.” (source)

5 themes between breastfeeding and the Sustainable Development Goals

Nutrition, Food Security and Poverty Reduction

Bridging four of the SDGs together, this theme aims to address the importance of breastfeeding with the promotion of good nutrition and food security in communities. Breastmilk is not only an affordable form of adequate nutrition, but also an key player in reducing the effects of poverty. (source)

Survival, Health and Well-being

Breastfeeding provides the foundation for lifelong health and well-being. Without it, mothers and children are at a greater risk for many acute and chronic conditions and illnesses. Joining five SDGs together, this theme’s focus addresses outcomes for a better future. In addition to better health and well-being, breastmilk can also help children reach higher levels of education and income. (source)

Environment and Climate Change

Breastfeeding is the first step we can take to protect the health of babies, mothers and our planet. This theme strives to provide green and sustainable nourishment to babies. While artificial feeding contributes to global warming, breastfeeding is environmentally safe. Since breastmilk is a “natural, renewable food” it is produced without pollution, packaging or waste. (source)

Women's Productivity and Employment

Because mothers’ milk is an essential food resource, it needs to be protected. While this is a strong point of this theme – combining six of the SDGs – we still have a long way to go. Unfortunately many women still lack social protection in their job situation. Recognizing the role mothers play, even during unpaid activities, in economic and social development strategies is crucial when it comes to bridging the gender gap in the workplace. (source)

Sustainable Partnerships and the Rule of Law

Children are the future. While we hear this phrase uttered time and time again, do we ever stop to think about the responsibility that comes with it? Babies and children are unable to make a choice in the world around them and it is our duty to care not only for them, but the future they will inherit. In order to protect breastfeeding and improve rates we need to share the value of breastfeeding, promote a positive attitude towards breastfeeding, advocate for breastfeeding programs, and enforce breastfeeding law. “Every child has potential, which can only be fulfilled if rights are respected and responsibilities are fulfilled.” (source)