Maternity protection is central to efforts to advance the rights, health, and economic security of women and their families everywhere. Maternity protection has two aims: to preserve the health of the mother and her newborn; and to provide a measure of job security (protection from dismissal and discrimination, the right to resume work after birth, and maintenance of wages and benefits during maternity).
Maternity protection for women workers has been a core issue for the International Labour Organization since its foundation in 1919, when the governments, employers and trade unions of member States adopted the first Convention on maternity protection.
Over the course of its history, the ILO’s member States have adopted three Conventions on maternity protection (No. 3, 1919; No. 103, 1952; No. 183, 2000). These Conventions, together with their corresponding Recommendations (No. 95, 1952; No. 191, 2000) have progressively expanded the scope and entitlements of maternity protection at work and provided detailed guidance orienting national policy and action. The core concerns have been to enable women to successfully combine their reproductive and productive roles, and to prevent unequal treatment in employment due to their reproductive role.