Since beginning of my career in 2002, I was involved in raising awareness for different adolescents groups in order to enable them to rightly progress through different stages of growth, through puberty to young age, with age specific accurate information. Also worked with community to create an enabling environment for the adolescents. While doing all these for ACP of BCCP I made up my mind to empower adolescents of Bangladesh which is about 30 percent of the population so that they can lead a healthy life by their choice. As a seconded staff to Mayer Hashi program of EngenderHealth in Bangladesh, I contributed to increase CYP and CPR by promoting LAPM and conducting outreach activities including orientation for government officials at Upazila level to popularize LAPM.
As a Peer Group Facilitator for BCCP’s Adolescents Communication Program, organized adolescent groups and conducted life skills sessions for them when I was struck by seeing poor conditions of adolescents derived from poor knowledge about reproductive health, early marriage, early child bearing, divorce and violence against women. Per BDHS 2014, 64% of girls get married before age of 18. Unequal power relations, unmet need of FP are other factors that persuaded me to involve in FP program.
Faced non-cooperation from parents when discussed about puberty, FP and HIV/AIDS issues with adolescents. Discussing with the girls was quite impossible. Establishing Peer Group and creating enabling environment by educating parents made the work easy at the end. To work with LAPM and PPFP issues, reaching the people at the remote and hard to reach area was a problem that required diversification in the approach. Motivation of local service providers was also important for better result.
Early marriage and early pregnancy, high adolescent fertility, low use of permanent methods, poor access to FP services in hard-to-reach areas, high dropout rate and gender discrimination are the biggest challenges in Bangladesh. While the government ensures support through the Community Clinics countrywide, utilization of those services by the people is needed. The people of Bangladesh need to be advised of the benefits of these services and utilize them for a healthy lifestyle.
Bangladesh pledges to reduce TFR to 1.7 children per woman by 2021. Current TFR is 2.3 since 2011. Early and unwanted pregnancies are major contributors to it. Early marriage has to be eliminated and unwanted pregnancy be reduced by 80% to achieve the target. I will stride to put those in people’s agenda by increasing celebrity involvement in FP and placement of opinion articles in print media. Will also explore who else among FP workers like to join me in this endeavor.