Featured Youth Advocate: Manami Hongo
How did you become interested in breastfeeding issues?
My mother is a La Leche League leader and I’ve been in the mothering-the-mother warm atmosphere for 21 years. When I was in senior high school, Jan Riordan (brief descriptor) came to Japan to speak about breastfeeding. I was amazed to hear how breastfeeding is like a magic to babies and mothers, and that was when I started to have more interest in breastfeeding.
The Global Breastfeeding Partners’ Forum took place in October 2010 in Penang, Malaysia. The forum was both a celebration of 20 years of breastfeeding work since the passing of the Innocenti Declaration, as well as an opportunity for advocates to discuss the future of breastfeeding support internationally and the steps needed to ensure its success.
What part of the GBPF conference was most useful/important to you?
I attended the GBPF in Penang, but not the Youth Training. However, meeting with other youths and pioneers was a great experience. We met to discuss our future plans and it was exciting to think together for global and local issues. I think getting to interact with various people and having friends to work with were two of the greatest presents for me
What is one thing that you have learned from the conference?
I learned that connection is powerful. We can have mental support from knowing we are not lonely fighters but are cared for.
Now that you’re back in your home country, what are you doing now to help with the breastfeeding movement?
I am an undergraduate student studying health communication. Dr. Haider Rukhsana, IBCLC in Bangladesh, suggested me to join WABA YOUth in 2008. I was asked to translate the YOUth brochure into Japanese. When I finished translating, the WABA YOUth brochure was printed and distributed by The Breastfeeding Support Network in Japan (BSNJapan). And now, in 2010, the translated WABA YOUth brochure was revised with pictures of Japanese mothers and babies. I hope more youth become interested in breastfeeding issue. I am telling my friends about breastfeeding issue using the brochure as tool when necessary.
I also conducted research on the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes regarding its violation in Japanese parental magazines and have just finished presenting a poster session at The 5th Annual Congress of Japanese Society for Quality and Safety in Healthcare. I am now planning to conduct further research on breastfeeding promotion and protection.
I am going to present a session at La Leche League Japan 3rd Area Conference in Osaka in July, 2011.
What advice would you give to a young person who is interested in becoming a breastfeeding advocate?
Talking to one friend about breastfeeding is a great start. There are various creative ways to get involved. Let’s thinking together to see what we can do for a mother-baby friendly society!