Family-Friendly Policies Essential, Deputy Secretary-General Stresses at Inauguration of United Nations Headquarters Lactation Rooms

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the inauguration ceremony of the lactation rooms at United Nations Headquarters, in New York today:

It gives me great pleasure to officially open the upgraded lactation rooms on the United Nations premises.  This upgrade would not have been possible without the generous support of the Permanent Missions of El Salvador and New Zealand to the United Nations; many thanks to you.

Welcoming a new child into the home is a time of joy and celebration for the whole family.  But all too often, the joy gives way to anxiety as parents face the reality of bringing up a child while continuing to work.

Feeding babies exclusively breastmilk for six months, and continuing to breastfeed while other foods are introduced, are recommended by the World Health Organization and UNICEF as the best ways to support the physical and mental health of both women and their children.

Breastfeeding provides protection from diseases and promotes healthy development.  It is the ultimate natural, sustainable first food, helping to reduce the risk of childhood and maternal illness, creating healthier families, and strengthening the development of societies.

But in today’s deadline-driven workplace, continuing breastfeeding can be inconvenient and even impossible.  I know from personal experience how difficult it can be to reconcile work and family responsibilities.  Lactation rooms are an important part of the solution.

Research has found that returning to work without adequate support can be a serious obstacle to breastfeeding.  And at the United Nations, where many personnel don’t have the support of family members, we need to be particularly conscious of the needs of new parents.

Family-friendly policies — like paid nursing breaks and lactation rooms — are therefore essential.  These policies not only support mothers, families and society as a whole; they also benefit us as an organization.  Happy staff are staff who are engaged and committed to their work.  This is the spirit of our management reforms and the people-centric approaches.

It gives me great pleasure to open these lactation rooms and welcome you all to view these new facilities.

For information media. Not an official record.