In November, the RISE (Resilience through Information on SRHR and Empowerment) project came to a close. This training and research project aimed to strengthen the capacity and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) knowledge of NGO health professionals to meet the needs of young women whose lives are affected by climate change and conflict in southern Bangladesh.
"During my puberty, I was curious about how a baby was born or how they come. But how can I share it with my parents? I mean when I will ask the question, won’t they feel ashamed? Could we know about these before marriage? I have known these only after marriage."
As this quote illustrates, there is a clear need for information related to matters of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) among young people in Bangladesh.
Meet the needs of vulnerable groups
Enter the RISE project. This training and research project aimed to strengthen the capacity and SRHR knowledge of NGO health professionals to meet the needs of vulnerable groups, including young people whose lives are affected by climate change and conflict in southern Bangladesh. After completing several modules addressing SRHR, gender and sexuality, links to fragility, and research techniques using adult education methods, a pool of Master trainers from both organisations worked closely with RISE consortium members to conduct a study on adolescent pregnancies in Bangladesh.
The RISE research report “My mother-in-law forbade me to take pills”: Factors driving adolescent pregnancies among young women clients from health clinics in Bangladesh, is one of the few qualitative studies on the issue and solidifies earlier research findings. One of the conclusions is that many young women (both married and unmarried) are unable to make informed decisions about their own family planning due to limited knowledge of SRHR and patriarchal family structures.
The stigma associated with adolescent sexuality and relationships plays a crucial role too, particularly in the lives of unmarried young women. Moreover, barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health services remain problematic with judgmental health providers and limited use of menstrual regulation services. Several young (married) women experience gender-based violence. Study findings suggest that there is a need for improved SRHR education in schools, contraceptive counselling for families, and a reduction in child marriage to reduce teenage pregnancy.
They lack the knowledge of contraceptives and patriarchal family structures limit their ability to control the timing and frequency of pregnancy. The stigma associated with adolescent sexuality and relationships plays a crucial role too.
For young people, barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health services remain problematic.
A week of events were held in early November to mark the closure of the RISE project after a year and a half of fruitful collaboration. At one event a range of stakeholders discussed the achievements of the training programme as well as the findings in the research report.
During the discussion it came to the fore that while the training programme focused on fragility, it is also a critical issue that needs to be discussed and researched further.
Next to this stakeholder meeting, two events were held with students from Daffodil International University and Dhaka University. At the event, students engaged in lively discussions and participatory exercises and shared their recommendations as to how to address SRHR issues in Bangladesh.
RISE has been implemented by KIT Royal Tropical Institute in the lead, along with RedOrange and Simavi in collaboration with Family Planning Association Bangladesh (FPAB) and Integrated Social Development Effort (ISDE).
A report of the round table event of the RISE project in Bangladesh can be found in the newspaper The Daily Star.
*Chatterjee, O., Kakal, T., Hossain, B. M. (2022). “My mother-in-law forbade me to take pills”: Factors driving adolescent pregnancies among young women clients from health clinics in Bangladesh. Amsterdam: KIT Royal Tropical Institute.