Receiving information and services in regard to family planning and making relevant decisions are sexual and reproductive rights and fundamental human rights. But women in Bangladesh have been discriminated in such issues while being victims of violence as well. Women in our society usually cannot express themselves freely. Negative attitudes of the society toward women is highly responsible for this. The situation is same in case of family planning services also. This service saves lives, makes life easy and contributes to the society, state and family. Women are becoming direct victims of multiple child births, untimely pregnancies, unwanted pregnancies, untimely death, child mortality, malnutrition and such issues because of lack of support from family and the society. Three issues can be drawn from this context:
Firstly, recipients of family planning methods and services are mostly women. In most cases, women have to adopt contraceptive measures themselves and often without informing their male partners because of social stigmas and taboos. And when this information is known by others later, women then have to face physical and psychological violence by their partners and other members of their in-laws' families.
Secondly, many men are reluctant to use any contraceptive methods and those who are in favour of using any mostly make their female partners adopt them even if those measures are detrimental to their partners' health. Thus, though the mind and body belongs to a woman, the authority of taking decisions belongs to the man. In this way, women have to accept the burden of family planning by themselves.
Thirdly, family planning service providers who work in the field often can reach women only as men remain out of their homes during the day because of their jobs. For this reason, men often lose the chance of getting information regarding benefits of family planning for which they remain fearful and suspicious about it.
Pathfinder International and USAID Shukhi Jibon Project aspire for comprehensive participation and responsible initiatives to celebrate this year's campaign with the theme "Orange the World: END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN NOW!"
And for all these aforesaid reasons, although both men and women seek welfare of the family, their lies a gap between the two in this regard which often results in violence. Not getting the chance to learn about reproductive health issues at early age increases the risk of getting wrong assumptions. Realizing this situation, such issues have been addressed in secondary and higher secondary syllabuses, but the messages are not being propagated properly.
Keeping this context in mind, USAID Shukhi Jibon Project has taken different initiatives.
Pathfinder International has been working in this regard partnering with the Government of Bangladesh and other organisations in 32 districts of 4 divisions to improve the quality of family planning and reproductive health services and delivering them on basis of equality. Awareness among men is increasing through backyard meeting, couple counseling, mass circulation of information and so on. Besides, emphasis has been given on increasing skills of service providers at national, divisional and marginal level. A total of 3444 service providers have been trained in gender and gender based violence besides training them in family planning and reproductive health issues and 83 million people, hopefully, will get benefitted by this.
Also, Shukhi Jibon Project has been working since 2018 to make the service centers gender sensitive and ensure service providers' role in fighting against gender based violence.
Pathfinder International and USAID Shukhi Jibon Project aspire for comprehensive participation and responsible initiatives to celebrate this year's campaign with the theme "Orange the World: END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN NOW!" We believe that true empowerment of women can end violence against them. We can change the society desirably only by moving altogether and not by leaving someone behind or by making harms to them.
Shamima Parveen is Gender Manager, USAID Shukhi Jibon Project, Pathfinder International Bangladesh.
Monira Hossain is Project Manager, CSRHR Project, Pathfinder International Bangladesh.