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HONG KONG, 13 July 2020 – The Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF HK) welcomes the passage of the Employment (Amendment) Bill 2019, in which the statutory maternity leave has been extended from 10 to 14 weeks. The new law will help Hong Kong to become more family friendly and support working mothers to sustain breastfeeding.
According to the latest UNICEF report, the sooner a mother returns to work after giving birth, the harder she feels to start breastfeeding. Even if a mother has breastfed in the first six months after giving birth, it would be difficult for her to sustain exclusive breastfeeding. A survey conducted by Hong Kong’s Department of Health last year suggested that the breastfeeding rate of newborn babies reached 87.5 per cent, but the exclusive breastfeeding rate for the first six months was only 26.3 per cent – well below the international level which stood at 40 per cent.
UNICEF HK calls for infants under half a year old should be breastfed exclusively, and support from employers is required in order for working mothers to sustain breastfeeding after maternity leave. Simple measures at the workplace, such as work arrangements, as well as the provision of a private space for breastfeeding and a refrigerator to store breastmilk, can help employees’ children to enjoy breastmilk’s natural nutrients and grow up healthy.
Say Yes To Breastfeeding (Say Yes), an initiative of UNICEF HK, held a commendation ceremony last year to recognize the 195 organizations which had implemented Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace measures. This covered 653 workplaces. At the same time, the hotel industry had said yes to breastfeeding, and this led the number of Breastfeeding Friendly Premises jumped to 178.