UN Volunteers ease accessibility to sexual and reproductive health
02 March 2022
A story from a national UN Volunteer with UNFPA China
With an objective to eradicate poverty and achieve universal access in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), UNFPA, National Health Commission (NHC), and China Family Planning Association (CFPA) launched a 3-year project. This project aims to improve the SRHR among vulnerable populations in Qinghai and Shanxi Provinces in China.
The project mainly targets women and young people of ethnic minorities and vulnerable groups such as those below the poverty line, rural residents, and persons with disabilities. Among this group are the ones in three project sites at an altitude of over 4000 meters including Yushu City, which was heavily impacted by the 7.1 magnitude earthquake in 2010.
Aimin, a national UN Volunteer Project Coordinator, has worked on this project since 2019. She supports programme management in planning, management, reporting, and coordination with various stakeholders.
One aspect of the project aims to improve the capacity of local service providers – including midwives – so that local women and young people can access better information and quality health services.
"I am now more confident with my skills for providing quality care, and more women are willing to deliver in our hospital." - Cairen Sangji, one of the nine midwives who received a 3-month standardized midwifery training at Huaxi Medical University in 2020
So far, over 600 local service providers, health workers, and teachers have benefited from the capacity building and skill development training. After going back to their communities, these skills are not only empowering midwives but also making maternity care safe and respectful.
Aimin and her colleagues discovered that young people in project sites shared similar needs for Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) but had limited access. Many factors contributed to this limitation – scarcely qualified teachers, less awareness, and cultural norms influenced people’s attitudes towards CSE.
Last year, over 1000 students who attended the CSE courses learned about the different aspects of sexual education – how to develop respectful social and sexual relationships, and where to turn for more information. It was a first for many – adults and adolescents – in Shanxi Province's Yushu and Yonghe project sites to get an education in CSE and hear experiences through seminars, workshops, and learning sessions.
Coming from an under-developed area in a remote province of Mongolia, Aimin feels fortunate to participate in a project that brings healthier living conditions for all. She is motivated to make a difference in people's lives, especially the ones who are coming from a similar background as her.
"Aimin has demonstrated a high level of initiative, organizational ability, and flexibility. She is a confident and direct communicator.” - WEN Hua, Programme Specialist, UNFPA