Contact: Louise Filkins
Phone: (202) 419-1820

WASHINGTON, DC — The Independent Women’s Forum today is disturbed by recent reports that the United Nations is embracing policies that are clearly anti-woman and could ultimately lead to a ban of infant formula throughout much of the world, setting women in the workplace back decades.

“Infant formula is an excellent form of nutrition for infants, and an important alternative given the reality that many women simply cannot breastfeed due to physical conditions or workplace obligations. Infant formula has been critical to enabling woman to achieve more in the workplace, by creating choice and greater flexibility,” said Nancy M. Pfotenhauer, president of the Independent Women’s Forum. “We are alarmed by reports that the UN and its agencies are actively working to remove bottle-feeding as a viable option for women around the world. Women deserve the right to decide how to care for their infants, and the UN certainly is not in the position to impose baseless restrictions upon new mothers.”

Last month, the World Health Organization– the UN’s Geneva-based health agency –decided to allow a vote on a resolution that would place black warning labels on infant formula products. The resolution, sponsored by Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nepal and Palau, claims that formula contains pathogens that can result in death.

“We intend to monitor developments over the next 2-3 weeks and to alert women about this attack on their liberties,” Nancy M. Pfotenhauer said. “We all recognize the benefits of breast feeding, but not all women can breast feed. This is an attack on adoptive mothers, mothers with physical conditions that make breastfeeding hazardous, including women infected with HIV, and of course women who are working to keep a roof over their family’s heads.”

The UN will be voting on the resolution at the 58th World Health Assembly meeting in Geneva on May 16, 2005.

“We all want infants to receive the best possible nutrition, but the UN resolution could be counterproductive both to infants and their mothers,” said Pfotenhauer.