MJF Newsletter-March 2021
During March 2021, MJF accelerated its online advocacy efforts for effective measures by the Government and relevant agencies to stop girl child marriage and to ensure sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents during Covid-19 situation. Besides, MJF also took several virtual events to celebrate the International Women’s Day.
This e-newsletter highlights some of the activities undertaken during March 2021.
Girl Child Marriage Strike Alarmingly in Covid-19 period
Within a period of seven months, between April- October 2021, 13886 girl child marriage took place in 21 districts in Bangladesh. Moreover, 5089 pregnancies admitted as unintentional. A rapid survey analysis on child marriage situation in Covid-19 came out with these findings. With the support of UNFPA, Unicef and Plan Bangladesh the study conducted by MJF. In March 11 2021 MJF shared the findings through a webinar.
The study took place among 10-19 year unmarried adolescent girls, child brides, parents who has an unmarried adolescent child and different health service providers. The survey conducted through both distance interview over telephone and face to face interview with a structured questionnaire. About 37% of the respondents reported of observing a child marriage took place within his/her neighborhood. 78% of the child marriage took place by their own parents initiative.
The webinar chaired by Shaheen Anam, ED, MJF, while Mr. Ram Chandra Das, DG, Women and Child Affairs Department was present as Chief Guest. Plan International’s Country Director, Deputy Representative of UNFPA, Deputy Representative of Unicef were present in the webinar. General Sescretary of Bangladesh Mohila Parishad and Joint Secretary from MoWCA were present as Special Guest. Read the news in details here.
Adolescents Much Need of Sexual and Reproductive Health Services
A webinar organised on 6 March 2021 to discuss on the importance of Adolescent sexual and reproductive health in Covid-19 period. In spite of government’s tremendous effort adolescents all over Bangladesh found less interested to seek services from the health centers. It came out from the discussion that gate keepers, local elected persons, local elites are not discussing these issues with importance and moreover service providers found lees adolescent friendly. Most importantly it has identified that privacy while providing service to the adolescents has not been maintained at all.
Dr. Dipu Moni, Education Minister of Government of Bangladesh was the Chief Guest in the webinar while, Dr. Mohammad Sharif, Line Director, Family Planning Department, MoH&FP was there as Special Guest. Read the news in details here.
MJF Suggests for Reforming Hindu Inheritance law
To initiate a discussion on the draft Hindu Inheritance Law to establish equal rights of male, female and third gender on their inheritance property MJF organised a webinar on 4 March 2021. At present Hindu females do not inherit their fathers’ property and the amount they are entitled from husband’s property also very nominal. Since long MJF and other likeminded organisations are working to change this law so that females can claim father’s property.
Justice Krishna Debnath from High Court Division, Parliament member Aroma Dutta, Kajol Debnath, Chairperson, Bangladesh Hindu, Christian, Buddha Joint Parishad, Milon Kanti Dutta, Chairperson, Bangladesh Puja Organisation Committee were present in the webinar.
MJF’s ED Shaheen Anam as Chariperson of the webinar facilitated the programme while Arpita Das from MJF shared the draft law with all and Rina Roy, Director-Programme briefly narrated the background of drafting the law. Read the news in details here.
Media Advocacy: Debate Competition
MJF under Women’s Voice and Leadership in Bangladesh (WVLB) Project along with Debate for Democracy organized a mock parliamentary debate competition for youth on 8 March 2021, funded by Global Affairs Canada (GAC). Topic was “Misuse of Social Media is increasing violence against women due to relationship without consent” and it was aired on ATN Bangla. Around 300 students from colleges directly enjoyed the programme and got message on safe and respectful relationship. Covered by a good number of TV channels and print media the messages reached millions of people over the country.
Another Shadow Parliamentary Debate organised on 11 March 2021 under Sida Project on ‘Parliament will make sexual and reproductive health and rights education mandatory for adolescents to prevent violence against women’. The messages came out through the debate was, violence against women is a very common problem around the world. It affects every aspect of the woman’s life and has many complex sexual and reproductive health consequences, education on sexuality has positive effects, including increasing young people’s knowledge and improving their attitudes related to sexual and reproductive health and behaviors, educating young people is the only true, long-term solution to gender based violence. However, it must be high quality, age-appropriate, and evidence-based comprehensive sexuality education etc.
Media Advocacy: Live Radio Show
To celebrate the International Women’s Day a series of live talk show on air through radio from 8-12 March 2021. Issues discussed were, transforming masculinities to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights, cyclone shelters in Bangladesh: How much safety it can offer to women, creating women entrepreneur at grassroots in a Covid-19 world etc. Academicians, government high officials, representatives from several donor agencies took part in these discussions. It came out from the discussion that, patriarchy in a society has aggressive attitude towards women. Bangladesh government have an ongoing project which is youth development training and also planning to work on SRHR (Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights) with a collaboration of government and non-government organizations. While discussing about cyclone shelters, it was noticed that these shelters are not women friendly. The radio shows were organized under Sida Project of MJF.