News

Family planning, a tool for gender empowerment for refugees

12 December 2017
Burundian refugee women in their cultural dance during the launch of family planning in mahama camp
Midwife Marie in a family planning session with Burundian refugee women

Family planning services constitute a basic right of choice for women and signify their ability and willingness to plan their future more carefully. When a woman is able to plan her pregnancies, she makes life decisions more effectively and guarantees empowerment of herself, her family and the community at large.

“Sexual and reproductive health especially family planning is a critical lifesaving intervention to be integrated into humanitarian response to save the lives of women and adolescent girls. When women are empowered and men involved in planning for their families mostly in such a challenging situation, they make right decisions for living” says Mark Bryan Schreiner, UNFPA Representative to Rwanda

 Without access to RH services, these women face an increased risk of life-threatening complications. They also lose access to family planning, exposing them to unwanted pregnancies in perilous conditions. Women and young people also become more vulnerable to sexual violence, exploitation and HIV infection, and the hygiene needs of women and girls are often neglected. According to reports in Mahama Camp, 18% of Burundian refugee women have benefited from family planning services which most of them feel it is a relief from worries for unplanned pregnancies. 

Kankindi at the age of 40 gave birth to her 7th born narrates “I first heard of FP here in mahama camp and this will be my first time to use it. At this age with conditions in the camp, I don’t want to have more children. I believed it was against religion but I and my husband have agreed on this” 

 

 

 Midwife Marie in a family planning session with Burundian refugee women

Apart from supporting family planning, UNFPA had greatly contributed to refugee welfare by aiding safe delivery, capacity building of community health workers, donating crucial health equipment and reproductive health kits to Mahama camp health center and Kirehe district hospital to facilitate management of difficult obstetrical cases  referred to hospital including rape and SGBV treatment, distribution of dignity kits, and supporting anti-sexual and gender based violence assessments and community sensitization and training among others.  

UNFPA urges all concerned institutions to support the well-being of refugees especially women and adolescent girls in Rwanda especially access to sexual and reproductive health services and information which will potentially transform lives and make better choices for their future.