UNICEF urges ‘transformative shift’ in family-friendly work policies to reap ‘huge’ benefits

Grandmother of two, Roopa Devi Lohar, works as

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


Because the “earliest years” of life are the most crucial, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) published a list of new family-friendly policy recommendations on Friday it says will likely reap “huge” benefits.

“There is no other time more critical to children’s lives than their earliest years”, said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director, “which is why we need a transformative shift in how businesses and governments invest in policies and practices that not only support healthy brain development, but also strengthen the bond between parents and their children – and reap huge economic and social benefits in return.”

And yet, policies, such as paid parental leave, breastfeeding breaks and affordable childcare are not available for most parents around the world. Family-Friendly Policies: Redesigning the Workplace of the Future, outlines the latest evidence and new recommendations that lay the foundation for healthy development, success and poverty reduction.

Paid parental leave

According to UNICEF, a one-month increase in paid maternity leave in low-and-middle income countries has been found to reduce infant mortality rates by 13 per cent. In high-income countries, each additional week of paid parental leave is associated with more than a four per cent lower chance of single mothers living in poverty. Paid parental leave of six months also helps promote exclusive breastfeeding, according to the agency.

Moreover, it also contributes to lower staff turnover rates, lower recruitment and training costs, and retention of experienced employees. For countries that have had these policies in place for the past several decades, increases in female employment have boosted GDP per capita growth by between 10 per cent and 20 per cent.

UNICEF recommends at least six months of paid leave for all parents combined, with 18 weeks reserved specifically for mothers.

Breastfeeding

Regular breaks during working hours to breastfeed, or to express breastmilk in a supportive environment, contributes to lower rates of acute infant and chronic child illness as well as improved cognitive and educational outcomes, UNICEF says.

The benefits for mothers include lower rates of postnatal depression, improved physical health and a reduction in the lifetime risk of breast cancer. Optimal breastfeeding practices produce societal benefits in what UNICEF estimated to be a $35 to $1 return on investment.

And yet, the latest available data shows only 40 per cent of children under six months are exclusively breastfed, as recommended.

Because the workplace represents a substantial barrier to breastfeeding, with around 16 per cent of workplaces without any statutory requirements to support it, breastfeeding is another priority recommendation of the new policy manifesto.

“The gains of family-friendly policies far outweigh the cost of implementation: improved health outcomes, reductions in poverty, increased business productivity, and economic growth,” Ms. Fore asserted.

Universal childcare

Universal access to affordable, quality childcare from the end of parental leave until a child’s entry into the first grade of school is the brief’s third recommendation.

Children who receive quality and nurturing early childcare are healthier, learn better and stay in school longer, and have higher earnings as adults. Childcare provisions enable parents to meet their work obligations and be parents at home.

Child benefits

Expanded coverage of cash benefits should be part of all countries’ social protection system for young children.

​A recent analysis indicated that only one-in-three households globally receive child or family cash benefit that varied from 88 per cent in Europe and Central Asia, to 28 per cent in Asia and the Pacific, and 16 per cent in Africa.

In translation, the majority of children in the poorest countries do not yet receive cash benefits to support their development.

“Investing in our families is smart social policy, but it’s smart economic policy as well”, concluded the UNICEF chief.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Coronavirus response: How the Capital Markets Union can support Europe’s recovery

Cybersecurity: agreement reached on better protection for citizens and companies

E-cigarettes are killing us softly with their vapor

OECD, UN Environment and World Bank call for a radical shift in financing for a low-carbon, climate-resilient future

Brussels terrorist attacks: Schengen in danger once again while leaders gather Europe’s multiple broken pieces

FROM THE FIELD: Weaving profits in Azerbaijan

Bolivia crisis: UN chief sends envoy to support peace, amidst renewed clashes

Parliament names radio studio after journalists murdered in December attack

Lifting the lid on policy decisions across Africa

Budget MEPs approve €104.2 m in EU aid to Greece, Spain, France and Portugal

DR Congo: ‘New waves of violence’ likely, UN warns, unless State acts to prevent intercommunal reprisals

The EU-US trade agreement, victim of right-wing extremists and security lunatics

UN resolution paves way for mass use of driverless cars

A new dawn for Europe: Joint op-ed by President von der Leyen, President Michel and President Sassoli

Is mental health really ‘health’?

A record number of people will need help worldwide during 2020: Global Humanitarian Overview

The Five Chinese Girls

Dutch voters reject EU-Ukraine partnership and open a new pandora’s box for the EU

Italian archaeological trafficking group dismantled

Progress toward sustainable development is seriously off-track

COVID-19 is more deadly for some ethnic groups

Service and Sacrifice: Malaysian peacekeepers in Lebanon proud to serve their homeland and the United Nations

Canada grants asylum for Saudi teen who fled family: UNHCR

We should look to nature for solutions to the global water crisis. Here’s why

Unemployment and exclusion brings EU cities to boiling point

Why do US presidential elections last so long? And 4 other things you need to know

Human rights in Brussels and in Beijing: a more balanced approach needed

How and why Mercedes fakes the EU fuel consumption tests

European Business Summit 2014: Sting Report, Day I

Commission reports on 2019 European elections: fostering European debates and securing free and fair elections

Planet’s Health is Our Health and the Reverse is True

How a chocolate bar gives hope for a new economy

Approving most of EU’s accounts, EP requests new measures to protect EU spending

This is how climate science went mainstream

Jakarta is one of the world’s fastest disappearing cities

State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation procedure into measures in favour of Béziers airport in France and Ryanair

In Mozambique, it’s ‘a matter of the heart’ says Guterres, lauding the cyclone-struck nation’s ‘undeniable moral authority’

Eurozone at risk of home-made deflation and recession

Brexit deal approved by the European Parliament

The 5 things you need to make your teams more effective, according to Google

India’s mega-rich are on the rise

Palestine refugee agency chief resigns amidst mismanagement probe

Buzzkill: why the hype around drones and COVID-19 is misplaced

EU Commission announces Safe Harbour 2.0 and a wider Data protection reform

EU’s Mogherini visits Turkey “to step up engagement” and highlight interests

What the future holds for the EU – China relations?

New York’s rooftop farms provide fresh local produce – and help stop a sewage problem

Brexit: Only Corbyn and May in concert can make the needed compromises

Vile act of torture prohibited ‘under all circumstances’, UN chief affirms on International Day to support victims

‘No justification’ for attacks against civilians, UN envoy says on mounting cross-border violence in Gaza

Berlin repels proposal for cheaper euro

‘Leaders who sanction hate speech’ encourage citizens to do likewise, UN communications chief tells Holocaust remembrance event

2019: A deadly year for migrants crossing the Americas

Conflict diamonds and climate change: Cooperate, don’t compete over natural resources urges Guterres

Can the EU assume the mantle of global leadership?

We know ethics should inform AI. But which ethics?

Global Citizen-Volunteer Internships

This is the state of the world’s health, in numbers

US-EU trade negotiations: pointless tariffs against real economic growth

Schengen: MEPs ready for negotiations on temporary checks at national borders

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s