When work becomes home: child care room at the UN House

UN Moldova
May 14, 2018 · 6 min read

By Laura Bohantova

Photo: UN Moldova

The United Nations in Moldova sets up a child care room on the ground floor of the UN House. Thus, UN employees and visitors have a comfortable and spacious room for child feeding and care.

The room is equipped with a comfortable breastfeeding chair, baby changing table, refrigerator to store pumped milk and a sink.

“I saw such a room for the first time at the UN Office for Human Rights in Geneva, then in Copenhagen, and I thought it would be good to have one in Chisinau as well,” says Violeta Fetescu, Administration and Finance Associate at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and mother of three children.

When she had her first child, Violeta had a 3-year full leave, with the second she came back to work after one year. With the third baby, she was already at the office when the baby was five months old.

Photo: UN Moldova

“I’m sure that at least twice a week, me and my baby will enjoy this space and it will be easier for me to combine work with child care and breastfeeding,” says Violeta.

Violeta Fetescu would want other public or private organizations to take over this practice of arranging child care facilities, as they bring benefits for both the mother and the child, and for the employer as well.

Photo: UN Moldova

“Fathers will also be able to bring their babies here, change their diapers. It is a win-win situation for all, as it is shown that a child-friendly work place contributes to a higher productivity and to a relaxing atmosphere.”

Photo: UN Moldova

Breastfeeding brings multiple benefits to the baby and the mother. Breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for infants. It has a nearly perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and fat — everything your baby needs to grow. And it’s all provided in an adjusted form more easily to digest. Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria. Breastfeeding lowers baby’s risk of having asthma or allergies. Plus, babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months have fewer ear infections, respiratory or digestive illnesses.

Breastfeeding saves time and money. It also gives moms regular time to relax quietly and communicate with their new-born babies. Against this background, the UN family in Moldova decided to equip one room in the UN House for breastfeeding purposes, which will enable mothers to enjoy motherhood and have a smooth transition to the work environment,” says Dafina Gercheva, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in the Republic of Moldova..

Poster: WHO Moldova

Breastfeeding is an aspect of human rights and it should be protected and promoted for the benefit of children and mothers. Paid maternity leave, safe workplaces for breastfeeding and/or milk storage are just a few practical steps to promote, support and protect the natural nutrition of babies. Therefore, it is a necessity to set up a child care room at work.

Photo: ONU Moldova

“At UNICEF we know: breastfeeding is the best gift a mother can give to her child, as well as herself. To allow staff members with newborn children to breastfeed exclusively, UNICEF grants 6 months maternal leaves. In addition, UNICEF has put in place workplace breastfeeding policies, including paid breastfeeding breaks, so that mothers can breastfeed longer,” said Desiree Jongsma, UNICEF Country Representative in Moldova. “On the International Day of Families, we must support further efforts and give Moldovan mothers the backing they need to breastfeed, and also offer fathers the possibility to care for their young children. In our own case we continue to support child friendly practices at the workplace by also contributing to a nursing room in the UN House, jointly with other UN agencies,” added Desiree Jongsma.

UNICEF video spot

“Breastfeeding is not just the best source of nutrition for babies, it is good for mothers as well. It has been shown to protect against post-partum haemorrhage, postpartum depression, ovarian and breast cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It helps the healing of uterus and creates a special bond between mother and baby,” said Angela Capcelea, UNICEF Moldova Health Officer. “In short, breastfeeding is among the most effective ways to protect the maternal and child health.”

Photo: UN Moldova

World Health Organization in Moldova (WHO) and UNICEF recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months and to continue breastfeeding for the first two years to ensure a healthy and safe life for a child:

“In addition to being nutritional and q disease protection, breastfeeding is an essential way of communication and relationship building between mother and child for the whole life. That’s why it is important to continue breastfeeding as much as possible to offer the child physical and mental health,” says Larisa Boderscova, coordinator of health systems programs within the WHO Office in the Republic of Moldova.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Reproductive Health and Rights Agency (UNFPA) and the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) funded the renovation works and provided the necessary equipment for the childcare room.

Photo: UN Moldova

“During the last 4 years UN Moldova made a huge progress and has been recognized as one of the most accessible offices in the Republic of Moldova, including for the staff and visitors with disabilities.

With the provision of this space for child care, the UN Moldova is making another step forward by ensuring adequate working conditions for both women and men who have children. This space will allow parents and children to enjoy their right to private life and right to health,” says Evghenii Alexandrovici Golosceapov, Programme Analyst, Justice and Human Rights at UNDP Moldova.

Photo: UN Moldova

“This is an example of how the needs and rights of people are put at the core of planning and implementation of reforms. This is a progressive example to follow for other public and private institutions,” says Evghenii Alexandrovici Golosceapov, from UNDP Moldova.

The UN has consulted a diverse group of employees and beneficiaries when deciding on the optimization measures of its premises, so that those adjustments could bring an increased safety and comfort for everyone. There is no better way to identify weak points when it comes to accessibility than to involve first-hand people facing these types of challenges.

User Safari exercise — user testing — accessibility optimization at the UN House, 2 November 2016. Photo: UN Moldova

Since 2004, the ground floor of the UN House is accessible for people with disabilities due to the installation of an access ramp. In 2014 an accessible bathroom for people with disabilities was arranged and the thresholds were removed in the building, at the ground floor. In 2016, access ramps were installed in the inner courtyard and for the first time in the country, a tactile pavement was installed. On 1 March 2017 an external elevator was launched, which makes the UN House more accessible for all visitors and employees.

The elevator of the UN House. Photo: UN Moldova

It is natural to open your doors to all and that is why each institution is responsible for ensuring a worthy and comfortable access for everyone.

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