Oxfam launches maternity protection campaign called 'Every Mother Counts'

In response to the challenges women workers in ASEAN face in accessing maternity protection benefits, Oxfam and partners in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, and partners plan to engage with the ASEAN bodies to promote a more gender transformative social protection agenda by advocating for better maternity protection provisions for marginalized women workers, including informal and self-account workers. Establishment or extension of instruments such as early childcare, maternity leave, parental leave, mother-child allowances, employment protection and non-discrimination, have been proposed as possible demands to be brought forward in joint influencing strategies in the coming two years. This includes advocacy, media work and public campaigns and lobby work towards crucial stakeholders in decision-making positions at the ASEAN level and national level.

Context and Intention

Maternity protection is a fundamental labour right of all women. It refers to key social protections and benefits that guarantee the security and health of women workers and their children during the periods of pregnancy and maternity. These include paid maternity leave, cash and medical benefits, health and safety at the workplace, employment protection, and the right to breastfeed and access child care services upon return to work. However, to avail maternity protection, national legislation in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam requires women workers to have formalized work arrangements and prove that they have met the minimum eligibility requirements for contributory social insurance or social assistance schemes. Most informal women workers cannot meet these requirements and are vulnerable to joblessness, debt, poverty, work-related injuries, and sickness. They also have a reduced ability to care for themselves, their children, and their families.

Campaign Plan

On May 1, 2021, Labour Day, Oxfam and our partners in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam are launching a two-month digital campaign, “Every Mother Counts,” to raise awareness on the challenges faced by women workers in accessing maternity protection benefits. The campaign will include social media advocacy, creative multimedia content such as animation and videos, and collaboration with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), who will play critical roles in maximizing public interest. The campaign aims to engage the public, employers and businesses, national policymakers, and ASEAN bodies in discussions about ensuring that all women workers can better access maternity protections in ASEAN.

Campaign Theme and Messaging

The campaign theme, “Protect All Mothers,” serves as the foundation for 4 Key Messages that will keep repeating in every area of the campaign:

  • Protect Mother’s Rights; Maternity Benefits Everyone
  • Maternity Protection and Business: Win-Win Policy
  • Income Security for Women: Maternity Cash Benefits for Marginalized Women Workers
  • Child Care Provisions: A Better Future for Women and Children

Press release and op-ed