How much would it cost to grant maternity leave to mothers working in the Indonesian informal sector?

New research from Alive & Thrive assesses the cost of cash transfers to women in Indonesia’s informal sector, revealing that the transfers would help #Protect breastfeeding and save public health costs. Watch this introductory video to learn more

New research reveals that the annual cost of providing maternity cash transfers to women working in informal sector would be a worthwhile investment. The financing need would be less than 0.5% of the country’s nominal GDP in 2018, significantly lower than the current annual rate cost of not breastfeeding in Indonesia – estimated at US $ 9.4 billion, or around 1% of the country’s nominal GDP in 2018.

The research, conducted by Alive & Thrive, Yale School of Public Health, CEDS Universitas Padjadjaran and EQUIDE, and published in International Journal of Breastfeeding, focuses on the potential benefits for approximately 17 million working women of childbearing age (15-49 years) in Indonesia who are employed informally.

Informal workers are not entitled to any specific maternity protection, which hinders breastfeeding practices and contributes to the high health and economic costs of not breastfeeding in Indonesia, approximately $ 1.5 billion to $ 9.4 billion. per year (see Walters et al 2016, Siregar et al 2018, and Walters et al 2019).

.. health and economic costs of not breastfeeding, approximately US $ 1.5 to 9.4 billion per year

Maternity leave has many advantages: the rights are associated with gender equality and higher breastfeeding rates in low- and middle-income countries, and offer broad social, development and social benefits. health of working mothers and newborns. Providing paid maternity leave to working women can improve the physical and mental health of mothers and children and the well-being of the family, and increase women’s participation in the labor market.

Despite pro-breastfeeding policies in the country, including three months of paid leave for formal workers, breastfeeding rooms in the workplace and restrictions on the marketing of breastmilk substitutes, there is a lack of breastfeeding support for women in the informal sector. This demographic group represents 52% of the country’s female workforce, leaving most Indonesian female workers unprotected, with significant effects. Only about half of all Indonesian children under 6 months of age were exclusively breastfed in 2017, resulting not only in high economic costs, but also up to 7,000 deaths per year in mothers and infants.

The research estimated the financial costs of implementing a hypothetical cash transfer program, which would guarantee an income to mothers in the informal sector during maternity leave, alleviate the unfair burden of choosing between breastfeeding and child security. income, and make it easier for them to reach breastfeeding goals. Our method, based on the methodology modified by the World Bank by Villar-Compte et al, followed established steps to estimate costs using national secondary data. Estimates have shown that the program can cost around US $ 1.3 billion per year (US $ 1,131 / mother per year). The low cost of the program, compared to higher estimates of the cost of not breastfeeding in Indonesia, demonstrates the importance of investing in maternity leave and breastfeeding support programs.

there is a lack of breastfeeding support for women in the informal sector.

However, challenges remain: budget constraints, sub-optimal policy implementation, a strong infant formula market, lack of breastfeeding rooms, local cultures that may hamper breastfeeding, and concerns about breastfeeding. trade-offs between income and maternity leave, must be taken into account to design a realistic and a strategy to implement and enforce the cash transfer program.

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