By Raihan Rahman Rafid

BRAC Education Programme and Right Here Right Now (RHRN) Bangladesh Platform organized ‘National Level SRHR Knowledge Sharing’ which was held at BRAC CDM Savar, Dhaka on March 10, 2019.

The event highlighted the need to break the existing taboo in Bangladesh regarding sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR). The speakers discussed their own experiences that they have faced during their adolescence period; the insight into the stereotype and conservative mentality as to being open about sexual and reproductive rights was also shared.

Mr. B A Wahed, Senior Programme Manager, BRAC Education Programme, delivered the welcome speech at the very onset. Ms. Saraban Tahura Zaman, National Coordinator, RHRN and Ms. Marzina Khatun, Manager, BRAC Education Program spoke briefly about the engagements of Right Here Right Now (RHRN) platform and basics of SRHR.

Md. Aynul Kabir, Additional Secretary (Development), Ministry of Women and Children Affairs was present as the Chief Guest. He noted that the government will be establishing 4883 adolescent clubs all over the country by June this year to promote education and awareness on SRHR. He further mentioned the eleven thematic areas on which the government is working including livelihood, family, planning, pre-parenting education, food and nutrition, ICT, gender, etc. He also appreciated the collaboration of NGOs and particularly UNICEF, UNFPA and other donor organizations.

Prof. Md. Moshiuzzaman, Member (Curriculum) of the National Curriculum and Text Board (NCTB) was present as the Special Guest. He noted that the meager discussion on sexual and reproductive issues in the textbooks was replaced in 2012 when SRHR topics were included with in-depth emphasis. However, the challenge remains since many teachers are hesitant in teaching these in their classes. He discussed how SRHR is a sensitive issue also in other countries such as Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland. At the same time, he exemplified the initiatives taken in Germany. The government has taken initiative to learn how to disseminate SRHR knowledge better by studying other countries and mapping the work of the organizations active in different parts of the country.

Ms. Qamrun Nessa Hasan, Consultant, Co-curricular Activities, BRAC, noted that a woman faces different struggles throughout her life. She suggested that awareness should be done everywhere, particularly in rural areas as those are still lagging behind in so many ways.

The youth activists on SRHR were recognized with awards in different categories according to their geographical divisions for their innovative and dedicated advocacy.