Gender Equality

Women not provided facilities for breastfeeding


Breastfeeding support in the workplace is crucial for the well-being of both staff and their children. After the birth of a child, women may need to nurse their children for periods generally ranging from six months to two years after the birth. As the needs of each mother vary, it is appropriate for businesses to establish a positive culture around nursing to facilitate conversations between employer and employee. Employers play a critical role in supporting families and enabling women to continue breastfeeding for as long as they choose.


Employers are responsible for ensuring all employees, including nursing women, are safe in the workplace and free from environmental hazards. Providing a separate room for breastfeeding can be vital in protecting nursing women in the workplace. Businesses should seek to provide a breastfeeding room which is clean, comfortable and private. As a best practice guide, the room should include:

  • a comfortable armchair in an upright position and made of washable material;
  • exclusive access controls for breastfeeding women and cleaning staff;
  • a sink and soap dispenser, which can both be operated hands-free;
  • a power point outlet, at close proximity to the chair; and
  • a refrigerated storage system exclusively reserved for mothers to store expressed


Businesses should maintain open lines of consultation with mothers to ensure the breastfeeding facilities are fit for purpose. Businesses should also seek to establish a breastfeeding and nursing policy that is readily accessible to improve transparency and awareness of the support available to employees. 

Relevant Human Rights Instruments

Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989
Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, 1979
Convention concerning Equal Opportunities and Equal Treatment for Men and Women Workers: Workers with Family Responsibilities, 1981 (No. 156)
Maternity Protection Convention, 2000 (No. 183)
Recommendation concerning the revision of the Maternity Protection Recommendation, 1952, 2000 (No. 191)
54th World Health Assembly 2001, Infant and Young Child Nutrition: Resolution 54.2



SDG 2.1

Businesses that readily support women with breastfeeding facilities can contribute to achieving SDG 2.1: By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round.



SDG 5.1

Businesses that provide employees with breastfeeding facilities work towards SDG 5.1: End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.

SDG 10


SDG 10.3

Businesses that establish a breastfeeding and nursing policy for staff assist in achieving SDG 10.3: Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard.