Jodi Kantor delivered yet another powerful article on the subject of gender equity efforts at Harvard Business School in yesterday’s New York Times. The piece reminds us that gender equity is intimately tied to social/financial equity and that dialogue and solutions must come both from the top down and the bottom-up.
This has certainly been our experience at Mamava. It has been an amazing journey educating our partners be they engineers, investors, designers, journalists, facilities managers (often men) about the logistics of breastfeeding away from home and baby. When they begin to truly understand what a woman must go through to make the commitment to breastfeed, we have found them to be not only receptive, but indignant about the current state of affairs, wanting to fix the problem. Of course many men are already well aware of the difficulty having had breastfeeding wives/partners. The saddest and most common stories we hear are from women who were forced to quit breastfeeding due to work circumstances and other cultural challenges, even from women at the upper echelons of their professions.
The bottom-up effort to engage a broader culture around our cause is just as challenging. Mamava’s desire is to empower all women to feel that they have the option to breastfeed if they choose when and where and for how ever long works best for them. It is their voices speaking out with pride, confidence, and good humor on this issue that will help to change the culture of breastfeeding, celebrating it as a beautiful, healthful, natural human function that is better for individuals and society as a whole.