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Mothers' rights movements have formed in various areas, focusing on workplace issues (labor rights), breast-feeding, and rights in family law. A number of organisations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), are working to improve mother's rights and lower maternal (and infant) mortality around the world.


Family law

Collectives, networks and organizations have formed to address issues that affect mothers in the family law context. The main issues identified in this area are, the safety of mothers and their children in circumstances of domestic violence, taking protective measures in case of child abuse, adoption without the consent of the mother in the UK and economical disadvantages in their access to justice. Some of the movements include: Anonymums Battered Mothers Custody Conference Mothers for Justice

Infant formula

The WHO and UNICEF produced the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (Marketing Code), the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, and the Innocenti Declaration (of 1990). These three actions are the international standards that many countries (over 65% of the 192 WHO member states) have enacted into their national laws. There are only nine countries in the WHO that have not taken action on the Marketing Code to give it effect. The U.S. is one of those nine. The Marketing Code is used to combat false and aggressive advertising tactics infant formula companies use to sell formula, including giving away just enough free formula that the breastmilk of new mothers dry up, falsely telling mothers they will not be able to produce enough breast milk to breastfeed their children, and falsely advertising that formula-fed children are smarter than breastfed children. The WHO has compared the current tactics by these companies, mostly U.S. based, to the tactics that led to the Nestlé boycott in 1977.

The year 2007 marks the 30th anniversary of the Nestlé boycott and the 20th anniversary of the Global Safe Motherhood Conference. In October 2007, the third decennial (occurring every ten years) conference will be held, entitled "Women Deliver."

In the United States

In the United States, unpaid family leave for 12 weeks is guaranteed for most employees of major companies by the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). Flexible working hours may be arranged by individuals with no assistance from the government. Childcare can cost more than tuition at a public university.[1] In some states (notably Pennsylvania) a woman can be turned down for a job because she is a mother.[2] There is currently a movement towards improving this situation which is focusing on improving the situation state by state.

The National Partnership for Women & Families and other organizations have advocated for longer maternity leave and fairness in the workplace for mothers. The United States lags behind most other nations in granting paid maternity leave. Most countries guarantee paid leave, with many offering more than 3 months paid leave, the U.S. doesn't guarantee a single day of paid leave.

The U.S. has very high rates of Caesarean section,[3] epidural,[4] and induction.[5] In addition, the U.S. has large numbers of formula-fed infants (and thus lower numbers of breastfed children). The combination of these statistics has unfortunately resulted in relatively high infant and maternal mortality rates for an industrialized nation. The United States is currently rated below 35 other countries in the world in terms of infant mortality. The U.S. has a higher infant mortality rate than the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Portugal, Cuba, Taiwan, Aruba, and many others, including most of Europe.

See also


  1. ^ Totah, Paul (2008), Parents and the High Price of Child Care: 2008 Update, National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, p. 1,, ""In 44 states and the District of Columbia, the average annual price for child care for an infant in a child care center is higher than a year’s tuition at a four-year public college.""  
  2. ^ Pennsylvania in Action! | Moms Rising
  3. ^ Rubin, Rita (January 7, 2008). "Answers prove elusive as C-section rate rises". Retrieved March 30, 2009.  
  4. ^ Tillett, Jackie (July/September 2005). "Epidural Anesthesia: A Resource to Use Judiciously". Journal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing 9 (3): 207–209.  
  5. ^ Kirby, R. S.. "Trends in labor induction in the United States: is it true that what goes up must come down?". Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care 31 (2): 148–151.  

Publications and External Links

  • The Motherhood Manifesto: What America's Moms Want and What to do About It, by Joan Blades and Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, National Books, NY 2006.
  • "Getting a Job: is there a motherhood penalty" by Shelley Correll [1]
  • "Expecting Better: A State by State Analysis of Parental Leave Programs" by Jodi Grant et al. [2]
  • "The Work, Family and Equity Index: Where does the United States Stand Globally?" by Jody Heymann et al. [] [Global Working Families]
  • "Family Friendly Work Schedules" AFL-CIO [3]
  • "The High Cost of Childcare puts Quality Care Out of Reach for Many Families" by Karen Schulman (Washington DC, Children's Defence Fund, 2000) [4]

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