Coming soon: A ‘breastfeeding-friendly’ Senate

News Release
10 August 2014

Sen.Pia: Senate to become a ‘breastfeeding-friendly’ workplace

The Senate will soon become a ‘breastfeeding-friendly’ government establishment with the launching of its very own breastfeeding room on Monday (August 11) for the exclusive use of nursing female members of the senators’ staff and the Senate secretariat.

The room which was put up at the extension wing of the fifth floor of the Senate, where most of the senators’ offices are located, will be open during work hours for nursing employees as a private area where they could express their milk or breastfeed their baby.

Measuring 2.5 meters x 4.5 meters, the facility is a joint initiative of the office of Senator Pia S. Cayetano, in partnership with the Senate Gender and Development Focal Point Group, and the chamber’s leadership under Senate President Franklin Drilon.

The air-conditioned room located at the far-end of the fifth floor extension wing is furnished with comfortable seats and tables, a refrigerator for storing milk, electrical outlets for breast pumps, as well as reading materials on breastfeeding, maternal health and child care.

The establishment of ‘breastfeeding rooms’ or ‘lactation stations’ in public places, government establishments and private offices is mandated under the ‘Expanded Breastfeeding Act of 2010’ (Republic Act No. 10028), which was authored and sponsored by Cayetano.

The landmark law also mandates employers to allow paid ‘lactation breaks’ for nursing members of their staff during work hours – apart from their regular lunch and snack breaks.

Monday’s launch coincides with the chamber’s observation of August as ‘National Breastfeeding Month,’ which is also mandated under RA 10028.

Other activities scheduled on Monday include a legislative briefing on infant and young child nutrition and the launching of a photo exhibit on this year’s theme, ‘Breastfeeding – A Winning Goal for Life.’

Leading breastfeeding advocates and health organizations will spearhead the legislative briefing, including World Health Organization (WHO) country-representative Dr.Julie Lyn Hall, UNICEF country-representative Lotta Sylwander, leaders from the Philippine Coalition of Advocates for Nutrition Security (PhilCAN) and World Vision Development Foundation, as well as experts from the Department of Health (DoH) and the National Nutrition Council.

The photo exhibit which will run from August 11-20 will feature the works of photographer Stanley Ong and his wife, lawyer Jenny Ong, an avid breastfeeding advocate.

In a privilege speech she delivered last week, Cayetano urged her fellow senators to become active supporters of breastfeeding in the workplace.

“I highly encourage my colleagues to support the pregnant and nursing women in our lives, especially the women who work for us,” said the senator, who chairs the Senate Committee on Women, Gender and Family Relations.

“I know that Sen. ‘Sonny’ Angara is a breastfeeding supporter. He has been ‘indoctrinated’ and has gone through that unforgettable experience. And, if I may, I think Sen. ‘Bam’ Aquino is lucky to be the seatmate of Sen. Sonny so he can likewise be enlightened too on how to become a supportive breastfeeding father soon,” added the lady senator, referring to the chamber’s two youngest members: Sen. Juan Edgardo ‘Sonny’ Angara, who has three young kids with wife Tootsie Echauz-Angara, and Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, whose wife, Timi Gomez-Aquino, is pregnant. #

Photo: ‘August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month’ (courtesy of the Philippine Gazette)

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