This profile was prepared when Nair Carrasco was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1999.
The New Idea
Nair believes that the importance of breastfeeding and proper nutrition for children is a concern for all of society, not just mothers, and requires widespread attitudinal changes. She has established the Maternal Breastfeeding Network, which coordinates and encourages the efforts of women from all social strata, as well as doctors, nurses, community workers, businesses, government agencies, and the press. Her distinctive approach connects sectors that have previously worked separately, brings together women from different socioeconomic levels to work on a common problem, and is ongoing rather than tied to specific events or crises. Nair uses communication tools to make Peruvian families aware of the advantages of breastfeeding. She is encouraging the national government to implement pro-breastfeeding policies, to make health services meet international quality standards, and to provide access to breastfeeding facilities. Nair's network is also fostering national alliances in civil society, which will strengthen and ensure implementation of state policies on breastfeeding.