Why Pathfinder Works in China
In 2011, Pathfinder began exploring opportunities to collaborate with China to address sexual and reproductive health needs both in China and in countries China supports. Upon consultations with key public health stakeholders and donors in China, we identified an area of priority in the field of reproductive health that Pathfinder had the capacity to respond to: the need for the development of a community-based, participatory and scalable model to improve the health, well-being and rights of migrant workers in China's rapidly growing economic development zones.
This is critical as China experiences one of the largest demographic transitions in history: 200 million rural migrants are currently moving in and out of urban areas for work. Most of these migrant workers are under 30 years old, with low educational levels and limited experience navigating the urban environment. This raises a range of challenges related to sexual and reproductive health, mental health, and occupational safety.
Without official residency status in their new locations, these young workers often lack access to health and social services as well as support systems. Furthermore, such workers are frequently unaware of their rights as employees and lack basic knowledge and skills to navigate through negotiations.
Pathfinder, in collaboration with University of California, Berkeley, is providing technical and facilitation support local government, NGO partners and factory managers to establish a referral network model of health and social services for young migrant workers in Chanzhou City, Jiangsu Province. A highly participatory methodology is being introduced to ensure full participation of project beneficiaries in the project design and delivery systems.
Female migrant workers in China are generally between the ages of 18 and 30 years, tend to marry late, and most have only a middle-school education. In a survey conducted by Business for Social Responsibility among female migrant workers in 2010, the main issues affecting their health, well-being and ability to work include breast cancer and cervical cancer; exposure to hazardous chemicals; sexually transmitted diseases including HIV; improper use of contraceptives and unplanned pregnancies; malnutrition; depression and suicidal thoughts; and menstrual pain.
- To meet the social and health needs of young, vulnerable, reproductive-aged migrant workers in economic development zones through a comprehensive health and wellness program
- To raise awareness and improve the provision of sexual and reproductive health education and services among migrant workers
- To create a platform with participation from government, NGO and corporate sectors to systematically provide the necessary health and social support to migrant workers
- To establish new support services for migrant workers via a partnership among migrants, employers, policy makers, service agencies, and researchers, and to advocate for an improved policy and programs to protect migrant workers' well-being and rights
- To develop mechanisms that monitor linkages among policy makers, advocates and researchers inside and outside of the government
Building Capacity, Strengthening Systems
Pathfinder's capacity building strategy is to introduce project design theory and methodology, facilitate network-building among our Chinese counterparts, and jointly develop a pilot model for scaling-up. At present, our key partners in China are the China Family Planning Association and the Nanjing College for Population Program Management. A pilot economic development zone within Changzhou City, Jiangsu Province was also chosen, and Memoranda of Understanding were signed with all local partners, including the Changzhou zonal government. Two workshops have been conducted and a one-year workplan was developed in April 2012. Based on Pathfinder's Integrated Community and Health Systems Strengthening model, we will design interventions that build individual capacity of workers to make informed decisions and boost community capacity to support their identified needs on the one hand, and strengthen the outreach efforts of the existing health and social service systems, both public and private, on the other.