07/19/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 07/19/2019 04:32
19 July 2019 - Businesses and governments urgently need to invest in families to reduce poverty and lay the foundation for children's healthy development and adults' success at work, UNICEF said today in a new policy brief outlining the latest evidence and new recommendations on family-friendly policies.
Family-Friendly Policies: Redesigning the Workplace of the Future notes that policies such as paid parental leave, breastfeeding breaks, child benefits, and affordable, accessible and quality childcare are not yet available for the majority of parents worldwide.
'There is no other time more critical to children's lives than their earliest years,' said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. '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.'
The policy brief draws on evidence on the health, educational and economic benefits of family-friendly policies and makes the following four recommendations:
In low-and-middle income countries, a one-month increase in paid maternity leave 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 a more than 4 per cent lower chance of single mothers living in poverty. Paid parental leave of six months also helps promote exclusive breastfeeding.
Paid parental leave also helps to contribute 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 gross domestic product per capita growth by between 10 per cent and 20 per cent.
Breastfeeding contributes to lower rates of acute infant and chronic child illness as well as improved cognitive and educational outcomes. Maternal health benefits 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 through an estimated $35 to $1 return on investment.
'The gains of family-friendly policies far outweigh the cost of implementation: improved health outcomes, reductions in poverty, increased business productivity, and economic growth,' said Fore. 'Investing in our families is smart social policy, but it's smart economic policy as well.'
Notes to Editors:
This policy brief is being launched at a summit of business leaders, policy-makers, civil society and UN agencies today at the United Nations in New York.
For more information, please contact:
Unicef UK Media Team, 0207 375 6030, [email protected]
Unicef is the world's leading organisation for children, promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
Unicef UK raises funds to protect children in danger, transform their lives and build a safer world for tomorrow's children. As a registered charity we raise funds through donations from individuals, organisations and companies and we lobby and campaign to keep children safe. Unicef UK also runs programmes in schools, hospitals and with local authorities in the UK.
For more information please visit unicef.org.uk