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World Breastfeeding Week: NH Focus on Women in All Kinds of Jobs

State Sen. Martha Fuller (D-Portsmouth) joins local moms at kickoff for World Breastfeeding Week in Concord: Courtesy: Granite State Progress Education Fund
State Sen. Martha Fuller (D-Portsmouth) joins local moms at kickoff for World Breastfeeding Week in Concord: Courtesy: Granite State Progress Education Fund
August 3, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. - This is World Breastfeeding Week and legislation is pending in the Granite State that would increase protections for women to pump breast milk while they are on the job.

State Senator Martha Fuller (D - Portsmouth) is a sponsor of a bill that would require employers provide reasonable accommodations to women while breastfeeding. She says the state law would increase protections from just hourly workers to all women on the job in New Hampshire.

"There're over 350,000 women in the workplace at all different levels of job," says Fuller. "Over half are between the ages of 20 and 44, which are the prime years for childbearing."

Opponents say the measure is not needed because employers already provide ample protections, but Fuller says she has heard from plenty of women working all kinds of jobs who say otherwise.

Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director with the Granite State Progress Education Fund, says World Breastfeeding Week is a time for the state to ensure that women returning to work after pregnancy are protected when it comes to wages, safety from on-the-job discrimination, and more.

"We need to make sure we've updated our workplace policies and our priority in New Hampshire right now is working on the Breastfeeding Rights Bill that ensures women are able to effectively pump once they return to the workplace and continue to feed their children," says Rice Hawkins.

The measure passed with unanimous support in the state Senate but Senator Fuller says the bill is bottled-up in the House Commerce Committee.

"Women who have experienced barriers with regard to breastfeeding should reach out to me, or the New Hampshire Citizen's Alliance, because the more we can collect those stories, we'll be more impactful with the House," says Fuller.

The theme of this year's World Breastfeeding Week is "Breastfeeding and Work - Let's Make It Work." Advocates say with more women leading in the workforce, it's time to update outdated policies to ensure family-friendly workplaces.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH