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KACHIN & SHAN, Myanmar - As people flee their homes, escaping armed conflict in northern Myanmar, UNFPA is working to meet the immediate hygiene and protection needs of the displaced women and girls. Working with partner International Rescue Committee, UNFPA reached six camps in Mansi, Kachin and in Namkhan, northern Shan. 100 dignity kits were delivered to newly displaced women and adolescent girls.

“When I left my home, there was no time to bring the things needed for myself. When I received this bag, I felt so happy to see all of the essential things that I could not bring”, said a 40-year-old woman who escaped the chaos in her village and arrived at the Man Weing Gyi camp.

UNFPA’s flagship dignity kits contain basic items that enable women to maintain their personal hygiene and sense of dignity during and after an emergency. The dignity kits have around 20 items, including sanitary napkins, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, comb, underwear and laundry detergent.

"Everything in this bag means a lot to me. Though this bag is intended for women, it is actually useful for the whole family”, said a 50-year-old woman in the Man Weing Gyi camp.

Clothes are a form of protection

Women and girls who are displaced become more vulnerable, and have specific needs that are often ignored in crisis. They are often forced to take desperate measures to protect themselves and their families. This is one of the reasons that the dignity kit also has a t-shirt and a longyi. Clothing facilitates women’s mobility and sense of security.  

Adequate clothing makes women and girls feel less vulnerable, and can help provide the sense of security they need to move around more freely to access health care, food, water and shared toilets.

The clothing and other items such as the shampoo, comb and bra also support women’s ability to maintain a sense of dignity and to uphold their status in the community.  Of particular importance are the sanitary napkins, underwear and soap which allow women and girls to manage their monthly menstruation safely, comfortably and discretely.

Information and support

Over 100,000 people are currently displaced in northern Myanmar. Many have not seen their homes for six years. The escalation of the armed conflict in Kachin and Shan in December 2017 has added more people to these numbers. UNFPA’s emergency response includes not only physical items. The newly displaced women and girls are offered reproductive health information and psychosocial support.

Group information sessions cover family planning methods and menstrual hygiene management, and also raise awareness about the emergency contraceptive pill and post-rape treatments.

Support activities focus on stress management and on how to develop positive coping mechanisms in the camp environment.