With a mission of delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every children is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled, the United Nation’s reproductive health and rights agency,United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), is working toned the unmet need for family planning, end maternal death and end violence and harmful practices against women and girls.
Program officer of UNFPA, Dechen Chime, said that by 2050, Bhutan’s population is expected to reach its peak of one million, where the urban population will be higher (55 percent) than the rural areas.
She emphasized on under age marriage, whereby the incidence of child marriage is coming down, but 31 percent of girls are still marrying under 18 years of age.
This is a concern, she said, adding that the girls should be in school rather than being a mother or being married. However, she said that they did not know the reason behind it, as they did not do any in-depth research on why the girls are getting married underage.
“It is where media can play a curial role in giving us the reason and that way both the government and development partners can think about the intervention,” she said.
Gender issue and sexual violence are UNFPA’s core mandates. She said thatching has been working with women related agencies throughout and it will continue in working with them during the next cycle (2019 to 2023).
Current intimate partner violence is 18.7 percent among 15-49 yearage range and 35 percent among 15-19 years old, she said.
. “It is not right for any individual to be a subject to violence at any point of your life. One should enjoy your life and be a partner in working towards development of a country rather than being victimized all the time,” she said.
28 percent of males and 10 percent of females between the ages of 10 – 19 years are already engaging in sexual activities or adolescent sexual behavior.UNFPAis implementing a comprehensive sexuality education in schools and a review of the program is done.
“The finding says that people are engaged in sex from an early age. I believe that giving correct information gives choices for young children to decide. We are a sexual-being,right from the minute a child is born,” she said.There is a process of change in the body and adolescence is an interesting age when the hormones are fully growing and exploring begins.
She also said thatin terms of sexual intercourse, studies have shown that many young girls do not know that they will get pregnant if they have sexual intercourse after their monthly period or mensuration.
“That is where, if we do not give adequate information and correct knowledge, then that is where things go wrong. So giving correct, adequate information and services is very important for our young generation so as to have a choice later in their lives,” she added.
She said thatUNFPA, therefore, works closely with government and Ministry of Education to impart sex education. In addition, Dechen Chime also said that unmet need for contraception is high among the adolescent age group at 27 percent.
She said 24 percent of reported rape case committed against girls below 12 years old.
Meanwhile, one third of all HIV infections are reported among 15–24 years old in the country. She said that, as per the national health survey, comprehensive knowledge on HIV is very low,especially among young people and comprehensive knowledge encompasses simple questions such as transmitting HIV by mosquitoes.
In the next cycle, UNFPA will be focusing on unmet need of young people including women on why they are getting pregnant, why they face certain consequences even when they don’t want to and more.
“5 years cycle plan is aligned with governments plan,”Dechen Chime added. In the 7th cycle plan (2019 to 2023), UNFPA will renew and focus on policy advocacy and knowledge management, strengthen capacity, broaden the footprint and expand partnerships.
Globally, more than 1,000 women die from pregnancy-related causes.
Moreover, 1 in 3 girls in developing countries marry before the age of 18, 1 in 9 girls marry before 15 years, 3 in 4 women are victims of violence, 1 in 3 women is a victim of sexual abuse and 50 percent of sexual assaults are committed against girls below 16 years.
Meanwhile, 1 in 4 men admitted to rape and faced no legal consequences, states the findings.