Ensuring Workplaces are Breastfeeding Friendly

JAKARTA (ILO News):  Evidence has proven that exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is the optimal way of feeding infants, followed by complementary foods and continued breastfeeding until the age of 2 years or beyond.  However, according to Riset Kesehatan Dasar (2010) only 15.3% of Indonesian babies are exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months. It is therefore vital that working mothers are given the opportunity to breastfeed or express their breast milk during working hours. This is reflected in Indonesian labour law, which obliges employers to provide opportunities and special facilities for working mothers to breastfeed during working hours.

Unfortunately, at present there is a widespread misunderstanding of the benefits of workplace breastfeeding and employers are unaware of their legal obligations. As a result, enterprises are not complying with the law and they are confronted with high absenteeism due to the fact that employees must care for their sick children as well as high turnover rates of female staff following maternity leave. These issues are particularly critical in the garment industry as the sector is primarily composed of female employees.

Simon Field, the Programme Manager of Better Work Indonesia (BWI) notes that “Factories in the Indonesian garment industry are finding it increasingly hard to retain female employees following maternity leave and to ensure full compliance with Indonesian labour law. These problems may be overcome if employers choose to support their working mothers and introduce breastfeeding friendly workplace (BFW) policies that will bring their enterprise in line with Indonesian law, as well as mitigate costs and absenteeism.”

In order to address these problems, BWI is collaborating with Asosiasi Ibu Menyusui Indonesia/Indonesian Breastfeeding Mothers’ Association (AIMI) to assist factories in the Indonesian garment industry implement BFW policies. Introducing such policies will ensure that employers are in compliance with Indonesian labour law, secure the health of employees’ children and guarantee the loyalty and productivity of working mothers.

As highlighted by Mia Sutanto, Chairperson of AIMI, “Breastfeeding is the biological norm for children to grow and develop optimally. It is incomparable, irreplaceable and priceless. Breastfeeding is MORE than just breast milk, or nutrition and sustenance; it is also food for the child’s soul and mind.”

Accordingly, AIMI and BWI have developed guidelines, “Breastfeeding Friendly Workplaces”, to offer practical assistance to factory management in the garment sector that wishes to introduce a BFW policy. AIMI and BWI will launch these guidelines on Indonesian Mother’s Day, 22nd December 2012, in conjunction with a press conference on breastfeeding, an award ceremony for media that has been supportive in broadcasting breastfeeding awareness and much more.

About BWI

BWI is a partnership programme of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) that works together with the Indonesian government, employers, workers and international buyers. Better Work Indonesia is funded by the Australian Government, under the Australian Agency for International Development (AUSAID), Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and The United States Department of Labor.

In line with BWI’s goal to improve labour standard compliance and competitiveness in the Indonesian garment and footwear industry, BWI has decided to support factory management in introducing BFW guidelines.

About AIMI

AIMI is an independent and non-profit organisation that aims to raise awareness on breastfeeding as well as to increase the number of breastfeeding mothers and breastfed babies in Indonesia. The association offers counselling by certified breastfeeding counsellors, educates various enterprises and communities on the correct methods of breastfeeding and builds support networks for breastfeeding mothers.

For further information, please contact:

Josephine Imelda
Knowledge Management and Communication Officer
ILO – Better Work Indonesia
Tel.: + 6221-391 3112  Mobile: +62-85710186867
E-mail: josephine [at] ilo [dot] org, josephine [at] betterwork [dot] org

Tengku Arisma Mellina
Head of Human Resource & Organizational Development
AIMI
Tel.: +6221-727 90165
Mobile +62-818 203164
E-mail: ari [at] aimi-asi [dot] org

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