MPPR World Contraceptive Day March with Pyay Youth Center

Myanmar Partners in Policy and Research (MPPR) held a satellite event for International Conference on Family Planning on World Contraceptive Day. The event was held in Pyay City in Bago Region with Pyay Youth Center (PYC) with 14 youths giving out sexual reproductive health and rights messages to over 700 people in the city.

The event showcased the power of youth leadership in changing the taboo of discussing sexual reproductive health in Myanmar. The day began with PYC volunteers giving awareness raising talks to Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Township Medical Officer (TMO) and members of the public about the importance of contraception among adolescents and youths. The positive impact on the audience was immediate. For example, the TMO encouragingly responded by saying

Today’s event is very good for adolescents and youth. Township health department is ready to provide what is needed and appreciates the effort of PYC youth volunteers organizing this event.” The participants immediately uploaded the event photos with the World Contraception Day banner in Myanmar language in Facebook advertising the activities.

The key message spread in the city was World Contraception Day: Marriage is not the Solution, Contraception is! The volunteer youths distributed ICFP knickknacks, contraception method information pamphlets and fans, as well as condoms especially produced for the event with the key message. The volunteer youths marched along the roads to two major universities in town, stopping at over 100 stores, interacting with members of the public, and putting event stickers on places.

The members of the public showed strong interests in distributed materials as this was the first time that contraception was promoted in public in Pyay. They talked with the youth volunteers, and many encouraged them. One shop owner commented,

I think today’s event will good for university students because they do not know about contraception, especially those from rural villages. The information included in the event bag. Most students have little opportunities to get correct information because this topic is still a taboo in Myanmar. They just buy contraceptives from vendors without knowing how to correctly use them.

In front of Pyay University and Pyay Computer University, the volunteer youths talked to the university students and their parents about the importance of using contraception by holding the banners, and gave information bag and stickers. One parent was surprised but positively responded saying,

It is good that this event is organized at the university as students are very curious about matters of sex. Correct information should be given to the students and they must clearly know about it. Yet, parents and communities are still unaware of the importance of it.

One male student was amazingly frank about it.

I have never used any contraceptive though I am now 18 years old. Today, I learned that it is also important for unmarried youths to lean about Adolescent Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Thank you very much for the information!

One female student also replied that

I was very surprised because there was no such event in the university in the past. It is good for us, and I hope there will be this kind of activities more in our university in the future.

After the event, the volunteer youths reflected on the day and stated that

We are very grateful to MPPR for their assistance as well as to ICFP and Johns Hopkins University for the financial support. This was the first time for PYC to conduct a sexual and reproductive health activity for adolescents and youth. Today’s event encouraged us to build our capacity more and be actively involved in AYSRH promotions in the future. This World Contraception Day event gave us an opportunity to openly encourage the use of contraception among unmarried young people. We really need to do this more in our community.