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Facilitating cross-country learning to strengthen maternity protection in Southeast Asia

February 2017 – Alive & Thrive is working with the Lao National Institute of Public Health to advocate for stronger maternity protection legislation to extend beyond the current maternity leave entitlements (five months of paid maternity leave for civil servants). Based on its successful workplace lactation programs in Viet Nam, Alive & Thrive recently facilitated a learning exchange where national delegates from the Lao National Institute of Public Health and the Lao Ministry of Health’s Women’s Union visited several workplace lactation rooms in Viet Nam. Representatives learned from the success in Viet Nam, including details of the comprehensive law and provisions, and how to set up lactation rooms in various sectors, and the importance of convening advocates from across sectors.

Lao PDR hopes to pilot workplace lactation programs in five workplaces in the Lao health sector from January – May 2017.

Alive & Thrive’s workplace lactation program in Viet Nam

Photo caption: Delegates from the Lao Women’s Union visit a workplace lactation room at Vietnam National Assembly’s Office

Photo caption: Delegates from the Lao Women’s Union visit a workplace lactation room at Vietnam National Assembly’s Office.

In 2012, Viet Nam’s National Assembly extended paid maternity leave from four to six months. While this achievement helped create a supportive environment for a large number of female employees to practice exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months at home, it did not address the concerns of millions of female workers who wish to continue breastfeeding their children up to 24 months. In most workplaces, there are no facilities to support the expression and storage of breast milk on site.

Consequently, in 2012, A&T collaborated with the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor’s Department of Female Workers to engage directly with companies and government agencies to create an enabling work environment for mothers to express and store their breastmilk.

Please read our workplace lactation toolkit for more information.