August marks the start of World Breastfeeding Week, an annual campaign to raise awareness for breastfeeding around the world. Founded by World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), it works to support, empower, and encourage individuals in their breastfeeding journeys.
When is World Breastfeeding Week?
World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated annually August 1-7. This is in commemoration of the 1990 Innocenti Declaration, an effort by the World Health Organization and UNICEF to “protect, promote and support breastfeeding.”
What is World Breastfeeding Week?
The World Breastfeeding Week global initiative was designed to recognize breastfeeding and its power to lower infant mortality, protect women from ovarian and breast cancer, and provide ideal nutrition for healthy growth in infants.
Citing the power of breastfeeding to improve child health and development, reduce consumer waste, and provide worldwide equity to give every child their best start in life, there are 17 United Nations Sustainable Goals the campaign seeks to achieve.
Encouraging and supporting systems that support breastfeeding is foundational to the campaign. That includes but is not limited to limiting “obstacles to breastfeeding within the health system, the workplace and the community” and increasing measures “to ensure women are adequately nourished for their optimal health and that of their families,” reported The Statesman.
Each year, World Breastfeeding Week has a theme. For 2021, the theme is “Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility.” WABA says it chose this theme as a means to highlight “the links between breastfeeding and survival, health and wellbeing of women, children and nations.”
Each annual theme is used to promote and support breastfeeding initiatives like support for working mothers, baby friendly hospitals, and women and babies health, as well as its effort to increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months up to at least 50 percent.
What is the history of World Breastfeeding Week?
Following the aforementioned Innocenti Declaration in 1990, WABA was founded the following year and the first World Breastfeeding Week was officially held in 1992, according to VeryWellFamily. That year 70 countries celebrated the new initiative. Participation is now closer to 170 countries.
How to support World Breastfeeding Week
There are many ways to get involved in World Breastfeeding Week. First, just spread the word. You can talk to your community, tell your friends, or share information about the initiative on social media using the hashtags: #WBW2021 #WABA #ProtectBreastfeeding #SharedResponsibility #breastfeeding #SDGs #worldbreastfeedingweek2021 #ProtectBreastfeedingaSharedResponsibility #protectbreastfeedingtogether #buildingbackbetter #warmchain4breastfeeding #breastfeeding4publichealth
If you’re looking to get even more active, WABA suggests hosting an event, passing out informational pamphlets, or reaching out to local organizations like La Leche League to volunteer.