UNFPA in Myanmar

Woman with BabyDelivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled. Photo: UNFPA Myanmar/Benny Manser

UNFPA is the lead UN agency for delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled. UNFPA has been working in Myanmar for 40 years, expanding the possibilities for women and young people to lead healthy and productive lives. UNFPA supports the Government and its implementing partners in four main areas of work: sexual and reproductive health and rights; population and development; gender equality; and providing assistance in times of emergencies and disasters.  Empowering women, girls, and young people is a common thread in these areas of work.

As part of its assistance to the Government, UNFPA works to strengthen health systems to improve the availability of high-quality and equitable sexual and reproductive health information, services and commodities among target groups, including in emergency settings. Few things have a greater impact on the life of a woman than the number and spacing of her children.  Improved availability of sexual and reproductive health services reduces HIV transmission among vulnerable populations, such as young people, most-at-risk populations and their partners, as well as the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.  UNFPA also addresses the stigma and discrimination that still affects those living with HIV.

Myanmar’s commitment to Family Planning 2020 in 2013 has resulted in an investment in this area. Reproductive health commodity security has been strengthened through the establishment of a national logistic system which ensures that reproductive health commodities reach those who need them, when they need them. This is implemented in tandem with the capacity-building of service providers. Skilled birth attendance at delivery, with back-up emergency obstetric care and essential supplies in place, is critical.

Young people are the largest demographic group in the country. Empowered with knowledge and skills to protect themselves and make informed decisions, they can realize their full potential and contribute to economic and social transformation. UNFPA advocates for the rights of young people, including the right to accurate information and services related to sexuality and reproductive health. UNFPA’s support in this area includes the development and dissemination of an Adolescent Job Aid package to help basic health staff provide age-appropriate adolescent and youth services; developing a National Strategic Plan for Young People’s Health; and advocating for a National Youth Policy, which incorporates comprehensive sexuality education.

During conflicts, natural disasters and other emergencies, sexual and reproductive health needs are easily overlooked – yet these needs are often staggering. A lack of privacy across many displacement settings can have serious implications for the sexual and reproductive health of women and girls. UNFPA’s dignity kits play a significant role in addressing these needs as part of its humanitarian response. A kit contains the basic items that women and girls need to protect themselves, to maintain hygiene and to preserve dignity. For example, simple items such as sanitary pads give women and girls the mobility to access humanitarian assistance and engage in the rebuilding of homes and communities.

For millions of women and girls around the world, gender equality and the full enjoyment of human rights remain elusive.  UNFPA is one of the lead agencies in Myanmar working to strengthen national capacity and institutional mechanisms to promote gender equality policies. Its activities to advance women’s rights and fight gender-based violence spans across the country, with a particular focus in conflict-affected areas. 

Do you know that:

  • In 2014, UNFPA supported the Government to conduct Myanmar’s first Population and Housing Census in over 30 years. For the first time in over three decades Myanmar now has access to credible and reliable data needed for development planning and policymaking.
  • UNFPA supported the development and launch of the Maternal Death Surveillance and Response system in Myanmar, which represents a pivotal step towards the reduction of maternal mortality in the country and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • UNFPA’s gender-based violence programme in Kachin includes eight Women and Girls centres for survivors of gender-based violence. They cover camps for internally displaced persons as well as host communities in both government and non-government controlled areas.
  • In December 2015, UNFPA, Australia, Canada, Finland, Italy, Sweden and the United Kingdom launched the joint initiative “Women and Girls First” to protect the rights of women and girls in Myanmar.  Working with local and international partners, the focus is on the most vulnerable women and girls in remote and conflict-affected areas.