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Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation provides USD 4,350,000 to UNFPA Women and Girls First Programme Phase II

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Joint Press Release

UNFPA Myanmar – Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) Myanmar

Yangon, Myanmar, 10 December 2020 — Mr. Giacomo Solari, Deputy Head of Mission and Head of Cooperation of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)/Embassy of Switzerland and Mr. Ramanathan Balakrishnan, UNFPA Representative for Myanmar signed a contribution agreement for a grant of USD 4,350,000. This funding is to support UNFPA’ Women and Girls First Programme - Phase II (2020 – 2022) and enables UNFPA to expand the programme into Southern Shan State.

Women and girls of childbearing age in Myanmar carry extraordinary burdens as armed conflict and displacement compounds deep poverty and gender discrimination. At least 77 per cent of the internally displaced people are women and children, and many of these live in camps for internally displaced people in Kachin, Kayin, Rakhine and Shan States. Women and girls have specific needs that are often ignored, especially during a crisis. Women and girls often lack access to basic sexual and reproductive health care. Without assistance by midwifes or access to contraceptives, women and girls are at increased risk of unsafe sex, unwanted pregnancy and unsafe delivery, and at higher risk of infection by HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. In addition, women in hard to reach areas and IDP camps have virtually no access to protection, security, justice and other services related to gender-based violence (GBV).

For these reasons, the delivery of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) as well as GBV services, including mental health and psychosocial support services, to conflict affected and hard-to-reach communities is a key feature of UNFPA’s Women and Girls First Programme. The programme is a commitment to prevent and respond to violence perpetrated against women and girls in Myanmar, and to realize their sexual and reproductive health rights. The programme is currently being implemented in Rakhine, Kachin, Kayin, Kayah, Mon and northern Shan States. The funding from SDC allows UNFPA to expand the programme to southern Shan State. SDC contributed to up-scale Women and Girls First program in southern Shan State and to support local women and youth organizations including Ethnic Health Organizations (EHOs) on protection issues.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted access to life-saving SRHR, GBV and MHPSS services needed for women, girls and young people in Myanmar, and acutely so in conflict affected areas. The funding from SDC enables the continuity of UNFPA’s live-saving support for the affected women and girls in Myanmar and helps accelerate the delivery of essential SRH and GBV services by both government and ethnic health service providers, mobilizing local civil society organizations and young people. Women and Girls First Programme is benefitting women, girls, young people including women and girls with disability, LGBTQIA+ and marginalized groups in Kachin, Kayin, Rakhine and Shan States,” said Mr. Ramanathan Balakrishnan, UNFPA Representative for Myanmar.

Mr. Giacomo Solari, SDC Head of Cooperation said, “On the occasion of the 16 days campaign to abolish Violence Against Women, SDC is proud to enter into this new partnership with UNFPA to strengthen SRHR, GBV and MHPSS services and improve access for the most vulnerable women and girls in southern Shan State”.

UNFPA, United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, continues to deliver critical and life-saving GBV, MHPSS and SRHR services for the most vulnerable women and girls through 33 Women and Girls Centers and over 24 mobile and static clinics in Rakhine, Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Mon and Shan States. UNFPA’s Women and Girls First Programme is funded by Australia, the EU, Finland, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland.