New initiative to protect women and girls against violence in Myanmar
Today, in connection with International Human Rights Day, Sweden is launching a new initiative to safeguard the rights of women and girls in Myanmar. The project will be conducted jointly with Finland and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and will encompass SEK 100 million over a three-year period. Sweden’s contribution will amount to SEK 20 million.
The 'Women and Girls First' project will be implemented in cooperation with local and international partners and focus on the most vulnerable women and girls in the remote and conflict-affected provinces of Rakhine, Kachin and northern Shan. The aim of the initiative is to prevent and respond to the violence committed against women and girls in Myanmar, and to improve their sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The initiative covers preventive measures in the areas of reproductive health and emergency medical care, as well as care, support and treatment for women subjected to violence and rape. Another aim is to increase women's and girls' knowledge about their rights, and also to mobilise men and boys in gender equality work. Improved health for women and children, with a special focus on sexual and reproductive health and rights, is also one of three focus areas in Sweden's bilateral cooperation strategy for the country.
"I welcome the launch of this initiative together with our cooperation partners, UNFPA and Finland, to address violence against women and girls. This is particularly important in areas of conflict and where certain ethnic groups, such as the Rohingya, experience discrimination and lack protection and care in the event of abuse," says Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström. "The recent elections show that the people of Myanmar voted for a change towards democracy, and we look forward to working closely with the new government,ˮ she adds.
One important step in the democratisation process is to increase respect for the human rights of all people in Myanmar, regardless of ethnicity, religion or sex. This is why it is important to change men's attitudes, increase women's knowledge about their rights and contribute to the building of a state under the rule of law, where everyone is given protection.
"This initiative is an important part of Sweden's support to Myanmar. Promoting gender equality and women's and girls' enhanced possibilities is a prerequisite for Myanmar being able to move towards a more democratic society. 'Women and Girls First' aims to enable just this kind of development,ˮ says Minister for International Development Cooperation Isabella Lövin.