Thursday 16 February 2012

Breastfeeding and the right to sexual and reproductive health

Breastfeeding has not been properly recognized by the international community as an essential part of women's reproductive cycle or as a sexual and reproductive right although there are sufficient medical, legal and social grounds to expound it as such. From a human rights perspective, several international instruments already provide basis for breastfeeding to be interpreted as a human right, related directly  to the right to health and to food. However, breastfeeding is constantly undervalued and threatened,  because of misinformation and commercial pressures, or because it is a maternal practice seen by some as being incompatible with other roles that women have, in particular their occupational role. Dominant social values, structures and institutions, which are rapidly spreading across the globe, often exploit and undervalue women's physical needs and both their productive and reproductive contributions.
Hence the international community needs to recognize the protection and facilitation of women's right to breastfeed as a component of their right to sexual and reproductive health.

IBFAN (International Baby Food Action Network) and WABA (World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action) have made a very interesting contribution to the General Comment on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights, by the Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR). Their submission explores the links between breastfeeding and women's sexual and reproductive health , and makes recommendation of how this should be dealt with in a huam rights framework. 


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