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UNICEF and the business community launch a campaign to promote breastfeeding for female workers

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female worker_680A 5 months pragnant female worker in Pro Kingtex factory in Tan Binh district, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: UNICEF Viet Nam\Truong Viet Hung

Ho Chi Minh City, 15th May 2018 – UNICEF is partnering with private sector to launch a joint campaign “Sixty minutes working as a mom” to promote breastfeeding at the workplace.  In collaboration with iCare Benefits, the campaign will be rolled out in Pou Yuen Viet Nam, the largest footwear factory in the country employing approximately 74,000 workers, 82 per cent of whom are women. Key messages address the common misunderstandings and barriers among factory workers relating to breastfeeding in the workplace. The campaign highlight how female workers can effectively use the 60-minute paid lactation breaks granted by the law for those raising children below 12 months of age.

Only 24 per cent of babies under 6 months are exclusively breastfed in Viet Nam, and only 22 per cent are breastfed until two years. These rates are likely to be lower among factory workers, who typically wean their babies early, replacing the breast milk with formula due to concerns and uncertainty about their ability to breastfeed once they are back to work in the factory after maternity leave. Research by Alive and Thrive indicates that returning to work is a major factor preventing women in Vietnam’s manufacturing industries from exclusive breastfeeding.

“Female workers are mothers too and must be supported in the workplace on breastfeeding.  By supporting breastfeeding in the workplace, factories can contribute to increasing the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months and continued breastfeeding upon return to work”, says Ms. Lesley Miller, Deputy Representative of UNICEF Viet Nam. 

 The discussion pannel helps addressing the common misunderstandings and barriers among factory workers relating to breastfeeding in the workplace. Photo: UNICEF Việt Nam\Trương Việt HùngThe discussion pannel helps addressing the common misunderstandings and barriers among factory workers relating to breastfeeding in the workplace. Photo: UNICEF Việt Nam\Trương Việt Hùng

Partnering with iCare Benefits, a social enterprise offering employee benefits programmes in the workplace, with 2 million members in Viet Nam, who are primarily female migrant workers and mothers, enabled UNICEF to tap into the retailer’s vast reach of factory workers. Together we have identified key misconceptions and barriers in workplace through assessments which contributed to the development of campaign concept and key messages. The campaign advocates for optimal breastfeeding practices at the workplace and also look into engaging factory management to support their female workers.

“We will continue working with Pou Yuen Labor Union and management, UNICEF, and other partners to create a solution to support female factory workers to be able to continue breastfeeding when they come back to work after maternity leave and then share it with 500 other factories that work with iCare Benefits”, says Mr. Trung Dung, iCare Benefits Founder & Chairman.

Participants today have pointed out the importance of policies and processes in factories such as time allocation for expressing milk, better access to lactation rooms and equipment, trainings and formation of peer support groups. The companies’ labor unions and human resource departments play a vital role to support female workers.

“Our human resources data show that on average, a female employee takes 14 days off per year to take care of her sick child under 12 months old. If we promote breastfeeding, the babies’ health will be improved significantly. It reduces employee’s absence from work and increases productivity as well. Companies will be benefited from more dedicated and loyal employees and less investment in recruiting and training new workers. Therefore, promoting breastfeeding creates a win-win situation both for the company and the employees”, says Mr. Yao Cheng Wu, Director, Pou Yuen Vietnam.

For further information, please contact:

  • Nazia Ijaz, Corporate Alliance Specialist, UNICEF (Tel: 0168 727 2565; Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )
  • Van Pham, Communication Officer, UNICEF (Tel: 0985420818; Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

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