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YANGON, Myanmar – The European Union (EU) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) have signed an agreement to support the second phase of the Women and Girls First (WGF) Programme in Myanmar. This agreement was signed on 5 July 2019 by EU Head of Cooperation Dr. Johann Hesse and UNFPA Country Representative, Mr. Ramanathan Balakrishnan. The EU will provide five million Euros to the WGF Programme over the next three years.

On behalf of the European Union, Head of Cooperation Dr. Johann Hesse emphasized: "The European Union is committed to supporting gender equality in Myanmar and across the world. Amidst economic hardships and sometimes under very difficult circumstances, women in Myanmar are striving to improve their families' lives and that of their communities. We are confident that the Women and Girls First Programme will continue to provide much needed support on mental, sexual and reproductive health to women and girls in Kachin and Rakhine States."  

“We appreciate the timely contribution from the European Union to kick-start the second phase of the Women and Girls First Programme, which has been a successful initiative in meeting the needs of women and girls in Myanmar in diverse development and humanitarian contexts” said Mr. Balakrishnan, UNFPA Country Representative. He added that “EU support will also enable us to further strengthen mental health and psychosocial support interventions in Rakhine and Kachin, one of the gaps in the current humanitarian and development programmes.”

The EU funding will allow the WGF Programme to deliver on the overall result of supporting women, girls and young people in conflict-affected states to realize their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and fulfill their potential through improved gender equality and prevention of gender-based violence. Funds will be dedicated to interventions in Kachin and Rakhine States.

In Myanmar, women, girls and young people in conflicted-affected states are not able to utilize SRHR, GBV or mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) services. According to Myanmar Demographic Health Survey 2015-2016, over 20 percent of ever-married women in Myanmar experience a form of spousal violence. Depressive and anxiety disorders are reported to be among the top 10 health problems that cause most disability in Myanmar. 

UNFPA’s WGF Programme was designed with the primary objective of gender equality and women’s empowerment, which can only be achieved through addressing the holistic needs of women and girls, including providing access to quality SRHR and MHPSS services, as well as ending violence against women and girls. The programme bridges the humanitarian and development nexus, through several modes of engagement from providing services to advocacy and policy work.