Press Release

UNFPA provides hygiene and safety supplies to displaced pregnant women in the BARMM

12 April 2019
“Women do not stop getting pregnant or delivering babies just because an emergency hits. In times of crisis, it is more important than ever to protect the dignity, safety and reproductive health of pregnant and lactating women," said UNFPA Philippines Representative Iori Kato at the dignity kit turnover ceremony.

MANILA, Philippines, 12 April 2019 — The United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) with support from the Australian Government is providing hygiene and safety supplies to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) to support pregnant women among those displaced from conflict in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

According to the 29 March information from the BARMM Ministry of Social Services, more than 45,000 people have been displaced from conflict in the BARMM including in Magindanao.

UNFPA estimates there could be as many as 1,400 pregnant women among the affected population, with around 500 expected to deliver in the next three months. There are also more than 900 women who have given birth in the last six months. Many of them fled their home to escape the conflict with only what they were wearing when they left, and even those were now torn.  They are feeling too ashamed to come out to the public for the lost sense of "dignity", preventing them from accessing humanitarian relief and other critical services.

“Women do not stop getting pregnant or delivering babies just because an emergency hits,” noted UNFPA Philippines Representative Iori Kato. "In times of crisis, it is more important than ever to protect the dignity, safety and reproductive health of pregnant and lactating women as they become even more vulnerable,” he added.  In an emergency, these pregnant and lactating women need services for hygiene, safe pregnancy and childbirth, and protection from gender-based violence; which promote the well-being not only of their families but of the entire communities.

In partnership with the BARMM Ministry of Health and Ministry of Social Services and with support from the Australian Government, UNFPA Philippines is providing close to 1,000 “Dignity Kits” for these pregnant and lactating women in Maguindanao. These kits contain personal hygiene items such as sanitary napkins, underwear, soap and shampoo. Beyond providing these women with proper hygiene, the Dignity Kits are also providing them with confidence and mobility to access critical life-saving supplies including food, water as well as maternal or psychosocial health services. The kits also include flashlights and whistles to help women feel safe in the dark, and a potty they can use at night.

“We are working in partnership with the newly established Bangsamoro Transition Authority to support pregnant women and new mothers in the BARMM. These Dignity Kits help to meet their immediate hygiene needs and increase their mobility and protection during this emergency,” said Iori Kato of UNFPA.

BARMM Minister of Health Dr. Saffrullah M. Dipatuan and Minister of Social Services Atty. Raissa Jajurie were present at the ceremonial turnover of the Dignity Kits held in Cotabato City.  The distribution of kits to affected communities will start on 13 April.

To support the BARMM Ministry of Health, UNFPA will also initiate a needs assessment especially for women and girls of reproductive age in the affected areas to identify additional needs for life-saving medicines and kits to ensure safe and clean deliveries in the midst of the conflict.

For more information or media inquiries please contact:

Mario Villamor; UNFPA Media and Communications Officer

Tel:  +63 917 302 6699; villamor@unfpa.org