As the country battles the Covid-19 pandemic, women are having to battle a multitude of issues, starting from gender-based violence and discrimination, to dwindling access to sexual and reproductive health supplies. With relief activities focused primarily on food, women’s access to sanitary napkins and other hygiene necessities are often overlooked.
With support from the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under its “Livelihoods Improvement of Urban Poor Communities (LIUPC)” project is mitigating these issues. LIUPC is ensuring sexual and reproductive health rights for women, and issues relating to gender-based violence are addressed, across 12 city corporations and 24 municipalities in Bangladesh.
The “Dignity First” Kit has already been distributed among 3,000 women in the Dhaka South City Corporation area. It consists of 17 essential hygiene items, including six reusable sanitary napkins, three undergarments, two towels, three soaps, and one detergent soap.
The kit is being distributed among women beneficiaries aged 14 to 49. Minu Bala, a 34-year-old mother of two, said, “My income has been severely affected by the pandemic. When you’re struggling to make ends meet, it is difficult to look after your own health. I’m glad UNDP and UNFPA have stepped up to address this issue. All items in the kit will be very useful for me.”
“Not just the adult women in my community, but the teenage girls, including my own daughters, need better sanitary napkins. I hope this will bring ease to my daughters during their periods,” said 40-year-old Shama Banu.
While citizens adapt to the new normal of Covid-19, it is imperative to ensure that no one gets left behind because of their gender. Having the correct means to maintain their sexual and reproductive health and protection from gender-based violence helps ensure the comfort and wellbeing of urban poor women, who are already showing extreme resilience in the face of a pandemic.