BERN, Switzerland, SEPT. 8, 2011 ( The Swiss Episcopal Conference is supporting the ratification of the International Labor Organization's Convention 183, on maternity leave and breastfeeding.

The bishops' Justice and Peace Commission released a statement supporting the convention because it stresses "the well-being of the working mother and the child."

The commission noted that the protection afforded by the convention "contributes not only to the well-being of the family, but also to a society that is a promoter of life. Thus, the protection of maternity constitutes one of the pillars of family policy."

The commission also spoke out about the modification of federal law on pay for time used for breastfeeding.

"In Swiss legislation, the time necessary for nursing is recognized as time of work, but its remuneration is not regulated," the statement noted.

The commission pointed out the "numerous advantages of nursing" for the health of the child and the mother, and recalled the World Health Organization recommendation: exclusive maternal nursing until the child is six months old.

"Despite WHO's recommendation, only 14% of women in Switzerland still maintain maternal nursing at six months, according to a national study of 2003," the commission indicated. "For many women, the return to work after the 14 weeks of maternity leave is a reason to stop or diminish maternal nursing."

"Measures such as remunerated leave for nursing and making the necessary infrastructure available for nursing, for expressing milk and preserving it are very important to promote the continuation of maternal nursing," the commission affirmed.

The Justice and Peace Commission also pointed out that "according to the Christian image of the human being, every man and every woman has the same dignity."

And "human dignity must be taken into account in the work place, especially if it is a question of particularly vulnerable dependents."

In this connection, the text added, by ratifying Convention 183, "Switzerland could be given the opportunity to promote the protection of maternity both in the national as well as the international realm, thus confirming its commitment to human rights."