The importance of paid work to the lives of most adult members of society makes the intersection of maternity and work a particularly critical focal point for efforts to improve both health and equality. Maternity protection for women workers contributes to the health and well-being of mothers and their babies, and thus to the achievement of Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5, which seek the reduction of child mortality and improvement of the health of mothers. By safeguarding women's employment and income security during and after maternity, maternity protection is also essential for ensuring women's access to equality of opportunity and treatment in the workplace, and progress towards Millennium Development Goal 3: promoting gender equality and women's empowerment.
This updated review shows that, over the last 15 years, there have been noticeable improvements in maternity protection legislation around the world, with a shift towards longer rest periods at the time of childbirth, and movement away from employer liability systems of financing maternity leaves.
This report draws from information on maternity protection legislation from the ILO's Conditions of Work and Employment Database
Copyright © International Labour Organization
April 17, 2010