Many women in remote and conflict-affected communities of Kachin State, Myanmar, lack access to reliable and comprehensive birth control options. Until recently in Myanmar, injectable hormonal birth control could only be provided by midwives. However, most communities in Kachin State do not have regular access to midwife services. In an important recent development, the Myanmar Ministry of Health and Sports (MoHS) introduced new guidelines allowing auxiliary midwives (AMWs) to administer a self-injectable hormonal birth control option (known as DMPA-SC), once they have been sufficiently trained. As the AMW network can reach more remote communities, this change has the potential to transform access to reliable and comprehensive birth control for many thousands of women of reproductive age in Kachin State and across Myanmar.
Meredith Walsh (back row, fourth from right), CPI Board Chair Dr. Tom Lee (second row, third from left) and CPI Board Member Dr. Adam Richards (second row, second from left) with CPI Bangladesh staff and Community Health Volunteers in Cox's Bazar in June 2019. Photo: Reza Shahriar Rahman for Community Partners International
Meredith Walsh, Community Partners International (CPI)’s Country Director in Bangladesh, reflects on the last 20 months working to support Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar.
I arrived in Bangladesh in early November 2017 to help Community Partners International (CPI) set up operations in Cox’s Bazar. Just over two months earlier, this small sliver of land squeezed between Rakhine State in western Myanmar and the Bay of Bengal, became the world’s largest refugee camp virtually overnight.
Shomshida lives in the world’s largest and most densely populated refugee camp, Kutupalong, in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Kutupalong is currently home to more than 600,000 Rohingya refugees from Rakhine State. Myanmar. She shares her small shelter, a rickety structure of bamboo and tarpaulin, with her husband and two-year old son. In late August 2017, she fled the violence in Rakhine State with her extended family. They walked for 15 days through jungle and across rivers, eventually reaching the border and crossing into Bangladesh. Her elderly father was unable to walk so they carried him throughout the arduous journey.
In support of the international campaign ‘16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence’, Community Partners International (CPI) is engaging in events and activities with partners and communities in Myanmar and in the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, from November 25 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) until December 10 (Human Rights Day). During these 16 Days of Activism, CPI is working closely with communities to raise awareness and understanding of sexual and gender-based violence, promote rights and protections, and provide information about care and support needs and options for survivors.
Each month, community outreach teams from Community Partners International (CPI) and the Karen Department of Health and Welfare (KDHW) travel together for two weeks across Kayin State, southeast Myanmar, promoting sexual and reproductive health, and helping to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls. So far this month, these teams have visited nine villages in Kawkareik Township.