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World Breastfeeding Week 2021: What’s happening?

A mother breastfeeds her young baby
Aminata, from Lacouroussou District, Niger, breastfeeds her 9-month-old son Hassane. Photo: Ollivier Girard/Concern Worldwide

World Breastfeeding Week 2021 is fast approaching - but what’s it all about? From the event’s history, to this year’s theme and ways you can get involved, here’s everything you need to know about the initiative.

First thing’s first: When is it?

World Breastfeeding Week will start on Sunday 1 August and run for a whole week until the 7th. It begins on the same date each year – so add it to your calendar!

What is it?

The overarching goal of World Breastfeeding Week is to highlight the importance of breastfeeding, encourage and promote breastfeeding and improve the health of babies and mums all around the globe.

This can be achieved by informing people about the importance of breastfeeding and galvanising people and organisations to take action and support breastfeeding.

Who’s behind it?

The event is organised by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), whose vision is to “achieve a world where breastfeeding is the cultural norm, where mothers and families are enabled to feed and care optimally for their infants and young children, thus contributing to a just and healthy society.”

First celebrated in August 1992, World Breastfeeding Week commemorates the Innocenti Declaration, a statement signed in August 1990 by government policymakers, WHO, UNICEF and other organisations to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.

Why is breastfeeding so important?

Breastfeeding can be hugely beneficial for the health, wellbeing and survival of both babies and mothers. It gives infants the best possible start in life, yet nearly 2 out of 3 infants across the world are not exclusively breastfed for the recommended first six months. This rate has not improved in two decades.

Breastmilk is safe, clean and contains antibodies which help protect babies against many common childhood illnesses and infections. It also provides all the energy and nutrients that an infant needs in their first months of life, alongside benefits that can last long into adulthood – for example, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease later in life.

For mums, breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and obesity. In fact, it’s estimated that increasing breastfeeding could avert 20,000 maternal deaths each year and prevent 823,000 child deaths annually.

That’s why it’s vital to educate women across the world about the benefits of breastfeeding and make sure that women who want to breastfeed their babies receive the support they need to do it.

2021’s theme

This year, World Breastfeeding Week will focus on how breastfeeding contributes to the survival, health and wellbeing of all, as well as the imperative to protect breastfeeding worldwide. Past themes have included healthcare systems, women and work, community support, science, education and human rights.

Get involved

Follow us on social media to read the inspiring stories of some of the mothers and babies we’re working with to promote breastfeeding, and be part of the worldwide conversation by using hashtags like #WBW2021 #WABA #ProtectBreastfeeding and #worldbreastfeedingweek2021

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