The theme for this year’s World Breastfeeding Week is “Breastfeeding and Work, Let’s Make it Work”. The week began on August 1 and ended today August 7 with a workshop at the Radisson Fort George Hotel in Belize City. The one day workshop is aimed at promoting and facilitating breastfeeding in the workplace. The main address at the workshop was delivered by Godwin Hulse; Minister of Immigration, Labour, Local Government and Rural Development; who spoke on the International Labour Organization Convention 183.
“It’s an excellent opportunity for us to expose and sensitize the public to the fact that breast feeding is an integral part of life, all the doctors and experts have said that. The KHMH, for example, is a child friendly institution and they encourage young mothers who have just given birth to breast feed up to a period of six months. From the Ministry of Labor’s perspective of course that requires some additional legislation and some work, not necessarily to force compliance but to encourage compliance so that there should be facilities to allow mothers who are working to be able to, at the same time, continue to serve their children and breastfeed their children. Of course given the state of the economy many employers will say that they can’t afford the time off. Sometimes there are mothers who live far away , transportation is a problem, it may mean that they have to stay home and all sort of things have to be worked out but the aim is to work towards getting there that is the bottom line of this workshop. So today there will be presenters on all aspects following this interview there will be a presentation by the Deputy Labor Commissioner Mrs. Paulette Wagner who will sensitize the panelists here and the other persons as to what the labor law allows and doesn’t allow.”
“Minister, is there also perhaps a move to see especially bigger businesses create spaces where mothers can perhaps feed their children or make accommodations and create child friendly space?”
“I can’t say that there is a move; we encourage it, we can’t enforce it because it is not legislated but as you heard in my presentation where I mentioned that my family is forever grateful to the Pallotine High school for allowing my wife who taught there for many years to be able to accommodate our children in the library and we do so in the Ministry of NEMO and in certain other places because that is what is important and I am one of those persons who firmly believe that your employee as great as she may be perhaps may not be as focused as she should, especially if she has the concerns of the whereabouts of her children especially the babies. So if we can move to that and inject some funds in the various businesses to have a child friendly space I think it would be a great improvement to the work place.”
The workshop was made possible through the partnership of the Collet Education and Resource Centre Breastfeeding Counselling Service in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Institute on Nutrition for Central America and Panama (INCAP) and the Ministry of Health.