Mike Brady's blog

Breastfeeding is a human right. What does that mean?

The World Breastfeeding Conference (6 - 9 December 2012) came to an end in Delhi with participants from 86 nations approving a declaration that:

"calls upon all concerned to adopt a human right based approach to the protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding and infant and young child feeding at international, national, and community levels."

This is a very powerful concept, backed by international law, which campaigners can use in calling on policy makers to act. We can use it to challenge governments that have failed to provide maternity protection or to regulate the marketing of breastmilk substitutes or that invest in the baby milk industry to boost economic growth while failing to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.

But what does it mean to say breastfeeding is a human right? And what about babies who are not breastfed and mothers who do not breastfeed? Here's the way I understand it.

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