The financing need for expanding paid maternity leave to support breastfeeding in the informal sector in the Philippines

Valerie Gilbert Ulep, Paul Zambrano, Janice Datu-Sanguyo, Mireya Vilar-Compte, Graciela Ma Teruel Belismelis, Rafael Pérez-Escamilla, Grace J. Carroll, Roger Mathisen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


In low- and middle-income countries, almost three-fourths of women in the labour force lack maternity protection. In the Philippines, current laws do not guarantee paid maternity leave to workers in the informal economy. A non-contributory maternity cash transfer to informal sector workers could be used to promote social equity and economic productivity and could provide health benefits by helping mothers meet their breastfeeding goals. The objective of the study is to provide a realistic cost estimate and to assess the financial feasibility of implementing a publicly financed, non-contributory maternity cash transfer programme to the informal sector in the Philippines. Using a costing framework developed in Mexico, the study estimated the annual cost of a maternity cash transfer programme. The methodology estimated the unit cost of the programme, the incremental coverage of maternity leave and expected number of enrollees. Different unit and incremental costs assumptions were used to provide a range of scenarios. Administrative costs for running the programme were included in the analysis. The annual financing need of implementing maternity cash transfer programme in the Philippines ranges from a minimum scenario of USD42 million (14-week maternity cash transfer) to a more ideal scenario of USD309 million (26-week maternity cash transfer). The latter is financially feasible as it is equivalent to less than 0.1% of the country's gross domestic product substantially lower than the share cost of not breastfeeding (0.7%). The annual cost of the programme is only 10% of the total cost of the largest conditional cash transfer programme.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13098
JournalMaternal and Child Nutrition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Philippines
  • breastfeeding
  • costing
  • informal sector
  • maternity leave


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