[Excerpt] Protecting the maternity of women workers is essential to women's rights and abilities to successfully combine their reproductive and productive roles, free from discrimination in employment on the basis of their actual or potential role as mothers. 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 global report provides a comprehensive review of national legislative provisions for maternity protection in 167 countries and their conformity with the ILO Maternity Protection Convention, 2000 (No. 183), and its accompanying Recommendation (No. 191). The first section analyses three key aspects of maternity leave provisions: the duration, the cash benefit paid and the source of the funding. The second part of the report covers other kinds of leave provisions, safeguards on employment, health and safety, and breastfeeding. Apart from maternity leave, access to other kinds of leave provisions, such as paternity leave, parental leave and adoption leave, are also important to help both women and men reconcile work and family life.
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 Database of Conditions of Work and Employment Laws, a searchable online database.