The Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Dr Natalia Kanem, confirmed that the organisation is “working with the police to protect women and girls” in Darfur.
The UNFPA works towards the reduction of maternal and child morbidity and mortality, raising awareness within communities about reproductive health and gender-based violence (GBV) in Sudan. Kanem said, in a press conference on Thursday, that the UNFPA is helping Sudan organise reports regarding GBV, especially in Darfur.
The Executive Director stated that UNFPA seeks to reduce maternal deaths by avoiding the delay in receiving health care, and stated the importance of family planning being fundamental to women’s equality and poverty reduction.
She explained that the UNFPA protect women through a number of mechanisms, including the community-based referral mechanism system. According to UNFPA, “the process begins with a selection of community volunteers, trained in reproductive health and management. An executive committee is formed which is provided with funds from monthly community contributions to create the ‘referral of pregnancy and childbirth seed’. The fund allows women to borrow money. The top priorities are high-risk pregnancies, women who will deliver with caesarean section, and women with bleeding. The women who borrow the money, refund it when they are able.”
Kanem met with the Prime Minister, Abdallah Hamdok, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maryam El Sadig El Mahdi, and a number of ministers yesterday to discuss the priorities and opportunities offered by the transitional government and its relationship to the UN as a strategic partner in providing support to Sudan. She emphasised the need for equal opportunity for both men and women, and said she has been working with the government to improve laws and regulations to ensure women’s rights, safety and dignity.
She also visited the Ed Damazin maternity unit in Blue Nile state to identify challenges facing the UNFPA in the region, where a community fund to transport pregnant women to health centres has been set up. “My favourite part of the day was handing over the keys to a tricycle ambulance, which we call a tuktuk in Sudan,” said Kanem.