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Breastfeeding is a Human Right - New campaign launched

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October 2, 2000

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For immediate publication

Toronto - The Commission today launched a province-wide campaign in partnership with the Infant Feeding Action Coalition (INFACT) Canada and Toronto Public Health to mark World Breastfeeding Week activities.

The campaign features a transit ad, which will run on municipal transit vehicles across the province and a platform poster which will appear in high traffic subway stations in Toronto. These advertisements are designed to help eliminate discriminatory practices against mothers and children, and to support the Commission's mandate to increase awareness of human rights and protections for women under the Code.

"Women's and children's health are human rights. Women have the right to participate in and contribute fully to society while fulfilling the responsibilities of motherhood," stated Chief Commissioner Keith Norton. Practically, this means that women have the right to nurse their children in public, and the right to a positive work environment where they can breastfeed their children comfortably and without fear of stigma. Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, refusing or denying a service to a pregnant or nursing mother constitutes discrimination because of sex and being in a parent-child relationship.

The ads are also intended to build awareness that women have the right to make an informed choice on how to feed their infant. Dr. Sheela Basrur, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health stated that, "Toronto Public Health supports the right of mothers to breastfeed their babies anytime, anywhere, because breastfeeding is the healthiest choice for mothers and babies."

The theme of this year's World Breastfeeding week is, Breastfeeding: It's Your Right! . Elisabeth Sterken, INFACT Canada's National Director, said, "It takes time to change entrenched attitudes, but it can be done. Let's hope the day soon arrives when discrimination against breastfeeding women is viewed as being as no less reprehensible than discrimination against any other member of society."

This campaign is part of the Commission's ongoing work to protect women from discrimination during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It affirms the work of other international organizations such as UNICEF and the World Health Organization, which have repeatedly promoted the health and social benefits of breastfeeding.

For further information:

  • Contact the Ontario Human Rights Commission to receive a copy of its Policy on Discrimination Because of Pregnancy at (416) 326-9511, (416) 326-0603 (TTY), toll-free at 1-800-387-9080, 1-800-308-5561 (TTY) or on its Web site.
  • Breastfeeding help is available through the Toronto Public Health's, Toronto Health Connection at (416) 338-7600
  • Information on breastfeeding and advocacy is available from INFACT Canada at (416) 595-9819