14 July 2017
Global Breastfeeding Advocacy Initiative (UNICEF/WHO)
The Global Breastfeeding Collective (formerly Global Breastfeeding Advocacy Initiative), co-led by UNICEF and WHO and comprised of over 20 partners, has made significant progress on commitment activities. For more information about the Collective: www.unicef.org/breastfeeding. As part of its overall communication strategy, the Global Breastfeeding Collective conducted a public launch event in the form of a global press conference on the eve of World Breastfeeding in August 2017. Alongside the launch of the Collective, two new reports were released. The first report, Nurturing the Health and Wealth of Nations: The Investment Case for Breastfeeding, shows how investing in breastfeeding now will save lives and money, and lead to healthier children, families and economies for generations to come. The investment case includes country level data on the cost of not breastfeeding in China, Nigeria, India, Indonesia and Mexico. The data is being used by country level colleagues to advocate for greater investment in breastfeeding. The Collective also released the Tracking Progress for Breastfeeding Policies and Programmes: Global Breastfeeding Scorecard, an analysis of 194 countries that shows only six countries meet minimum recommended standards for breastfeeding. The scorecard also serves as an online tool to track progress in all countries against the Collective’s seven policy recommendations set forth in its Call to Action and will be used for targeted advocacy to decision makers to strengthen policies and increase investments to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
The launch of the Collective and accompanying report releases were announced during a highly successful press conference. Press conference speakers included the First Lady of Nigeria and Vice Minister of Health of Indonesia. The press conference generated significant media coverage in over 2000 global and national media outlets, and reached over 545 million over social media. Accompanying launch events were conducted in Nigeria, Indonesia and the Philippines. In Nigeria, for example, the country used the launch of the Global Breastfeeding Collective as an opportunity to replicate the Collective at the national level, bringing together partners to advocate for an expansion of the country’s maternity leave policy.
A new Collective website was also created which includes its Call to Action, reports, and advocacy briefs reflecting messaging informed my audience research. The website also includes an interactive dashboard which enables advocates to view country specific data on the state of breastfeeding policies in all countries and use it to advance their advocacy efforts for comprehensive breastfeeding programmes.
The Global Breastfeeding Advocacy Initiative is comprised of 1000 Days, the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, Action Against Hunger, Alive and Thrive, A Promise Renewed, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute, Concern Worldwide, Helen Keller International, International Baby Food Action Network, the International Lactation Consultant Association, the International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation, Save the Children, USAID, the World Alliance of Breastfeeding Action, and World Vision, led by UNICEF and WHO, with financial support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This commitment is in support of the Global Strategy (2016-2030).
We commit to increasing awareness about breastfeeding and advocating for increased political commitment to and investment for breastfeeding programmes and supportive policies. Our advocacy efforts will be focused on accelerating progress towards reaching or exceeding the World Health Assembly global target, calling on governments to support increasing exclusive breastfeeding rates for children under six months of age to at least 50 percent by 2025. Advocacy efforts will also aim to increase early initiation of breastfeeding for newborns. From 2015-18 we will foster leadership and alliances and effectively integrate and communicate breastfeeding messages; mobilize resources and promote accountability and build knowledge and evidence to enhance breastfeeding policies, programmes, financing and communication.
UNICEF (through the U.S. Fund) hired Berlin Rosen, a prominent strategic communications firm, to develop an innovative communication strategy to reach, engage with, and mobilize target audiences (governments, policymakers, donors, and international decision makers) to encourage greater political commitment and financial investment in breastfeeding. The communications strategy, to be used by UNICEF and all members of the Breastfeeding Advocacy Initiative (BAI), has been successfully completed. The strategic communication plan is comprehensive and comprises several components, including a messaging framework that provides a basis for how BAI partners, spokespersons, and other stakeholders will talk about breastfeeding and the need to increase political and financial support in the most compelling way possible to influence key audiences. The messaging framework is key a component of the communications strategy and was informed by audience research undertaken by the in China, Nigeria, India, Mexico, U.S. and UK (approximately 2400 people in total) to understand perceptions of and barriers to breastfeeding in those countries; and to get a sense of which messages, messengers and frameworks will most likely move influencers to invest in and prioritize increasing breastfeeding rates in their countries. The messaging framework has been adopted by the BAI and messages have been reflected in op-eds and other media, talking points and in advocacy briefs.