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Preventing Unplanned Pregnancies Among Garment Factory Workers

Nimol is a 20-year-old woman from Takeo Province who moved to Phnom Penh with her husband to work in a garment factory. Nimol has been concerned about getting pregnant, as she and her husband are not financially ready to have a baby. However, they had not figured out the best way to keep from getting pregnant. After participating in the Chat! Contraception package introduced in her factory by CARE, she now feels she has enough information to prevent an unplanned pregnancy.

“I was very worried. In this factory, I knew a friend working in the same section like me. She had a baby but she didn’t have a husband”, says Nimol. “She had a serious crisis. When we asked her what was wrong, she was already 2 months pregnant. She cried, she didn’t know what to do…”

Nimol and her husband were struggling to make ends meet, and they imagined how difficult it would be to have a baby at that point of their life: “Even being married, we wouldn’t have enough money to support our daily life. And while I am pregnant, I would not want to work so much…”

In Cambodia the majority of garment factory workers who are sexually active do not use modern contraception, and only 8 per cent of all workers are aware that abortion is legal in the country. This lack of knowledge can cause garment factory workers to rely on local practices that might be dangerous and ineffective. When factory workers in turn become sick, they may not be able to work and may end up losing their only source of income.

PSL’s Chat! training package aims at filling this knowledge gap among factory workers and helping them adopt healthy reproductive practices: “When I attended the Chat! Contraception sessions, I learned a lot…I learned about the features of contraceptives, and I learned how to use contraceptives properly,” says Nimol. “This training course is about preventing unwanted pregnancy, using contraception, where to seek out safe abortions, and correcting bad information.”

The Chat! package consists of three different components to address workers’ sexual and reproductive health, including interactive group training sessions that increase workers’ awareness and confidence, video dramas to show workers examples of real-life issues and challenges, and a mobile app to test and expand workers’ knowledge. “

I think these videos are good,” answers Nimol when asked about her favorite part. She likes the video dramas because while they bring examples from everyday life, they also indicate potential solutions to the sexual health challenges workers often have to face. “These dramas are good for us. They help correct misunderstandings and show us how to prevent unwanted pregnancies.”

Nimol is particularly happy about being able to plan her future: “After experiencing the Chat! Contraception program, we have advantages in our daily lives like having more time…by not having an unwanted baby. We can delay pregnancy, we have enough time to work, and save money. And when we want a baby, we know the way to have it safely.”

And she is also confident she will be able to share her knowledge with the people who are close to her: “I want to tell my friends, my parents, colleagues, and friends who work with me to learn from this program.”

While the knowledge gap remains a problem for many garment factory workers, 26 factories in Cambodia have implemented the Chat! Contraception package, and as a result over 7200 garment factory workers have been reached. Thanks to these efforts, women like Nimol can now make healthy, informed sexual choices. By understanding their options for modern contraception, they can now plan their future the way they desire.

These activities are part of Partnering to Save Lives, which is funded by the Australian Government.

Learn more about Partnering to Save Lives (PSL) project >

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