Asia Pacific - Myanmar Jesuit Mission: Supporting women and girls in the pandemic

Myanmar is suffering from a resurgence of Covid-19 cases–much worse than the first wave–and now millions are locked down, unable to work or go to school. With the coming of cooler weather in December and January, they are predicting ongoing infection. The World Health Organisation is calling this an “emergency period” for the small Southeast Asian country, which has been rocked by conflict most severely in the western Rahkine State. This has not stopped the Myanmar Jesuit Mission from continuously working to help those most in need. 

The squatter families in Yangon, the poorer parts of Taunggyi, and those displaced by conflict in Kachin and Chin States will receive six months’ worth of food and livelihood support. The social outreach team is led by a newly ordained Jesuit, Fr Cyril Nya Myo Htet, who is joined by partners on the ground sending food packs and supplies to the most vulnerable households. Also, they are focusing on building livelihood opportunities, simple ways to help alleviate their poverty. Women and girls, especially, have been impacted by the pandemic. 

The lockdown situation has led to more incidences of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and exploitation. Unable to work, they are stuck in the slums and faced with desperate circumstances, forcing some into the sex trade despite the risks and stigmatisation. Fr Cyril Nya Myo Htet SJ says, “These women are good people who seek dignity through hard work… The pandemic has melted the livelihood of thousands and these women sacrifice their lives to feed their families.” In the coming months, skills training and microcredit loans will be offered to the women to help with their situations. Read more…