While Bangladesh made impressive progress in reducing maternal deaths ahead of the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals, it remains a dangerous place to give birth.

Young women listen to healthcare advice. Photo: YCI/Lizz Harrison

For every 100,000 live births, 170 women will die – meaning Bangladesh has one of the highest levels of maternal mortality in Asia.

Although the legal age for women to marry in Bangladesh is 18, two thirds of girls are married before that age. Younger brides often find it more difficult to delay their first pregnancy leaving them at greater risk of complications.

High levels of poverty and limited education worsen the situation making women from the poorest household more vulnerable to ill health.

How we are helping
This project is funded by the Department for International DevelopmentFunded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) Y Care International is working with YWCA Bangladesh to reduce poverty and improve maternal health in the country’s Barisal, Comilla, Dinajpur, Jessore, and Pabna districts.  

We involve both men and women in work to understand and address the causes of poor maternal health. This ensures young women have the knowledge and confidence to speak up about when and how they have children, and young men understand why they must listen.

By providing training in vocational and business skills we help young women improve their household income. Through contributing in this way, they will secure respect at home and in the community, and are more likely to be involved in decisions affecting them and their children.

Our goals:

  • Provide 3350 young women with the information and confidence they need to postpone marriage and pregnancy
  • Train 80 young women in vocational skills
  • Provide information to 1600 young men about reproduction and women’s rights to reduce early marriage and delay first pregnancies
  • Work with 370 health professionals to improve their communication about pregnancy and childbirth with young women and men