What if we all stood right by her?
These are the sentiments that overwhelmed the room during the training of about 25 journalists on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) on 3rd Oct 2018 at Alisa Hotel, Accra, Ghana.
The training dubbed #RightByHer Journalist Training Workshop was coordinated by International Planned Parenthood Federation Africa Region (IPPFAR), Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG) and sponsored by The State of African Women Report Program (SoAW).
Members of the fourth estate learned relevant terminologies around SRHR and crosscutting issues around health in Africa, particularly SRHR, in relation to population and development.The training also included an evaluation of the SRHR curriculum for journalists across Africa that is currently at its initial stage of development.
Guiding the training was a review of the State of African Women Report (SoAW 2018) which outlines key areas around health that affect women and girls in Africa. The report which was launched in earlier in July, further gives recommendations on the way forward to improve the lives of girls and women in Africa.
Journalists shared some of the challenges that they experience on the ground while covering SRHR stories mainly because of the sensitivity around the topics. However, Ms. Abena Executive Director, PPAG encouraged the health reporters to engage experts as much as possible in order to shed light on these crucial yet ignored issues, that often border development. Said Ms. Abena “It is important that you understand the topics well so that you are able to break down some of the existing myths and misconceptions.” She added.
Ms. Abena volunteered to offer her support along the way. “Come to us, we will help you. My staff at PPAG are knowledgeable on all areas around SRHR, they will assist you” She affirmed.
Journalists also got acquainted with progress of the Maputo Protocol on the rights of women and girls in Africa and the Maputo Plan of Action (MPoA) which is the implementation framework for the continental policy framework. It is necessary that journalists understand some of these important documents to help them improve on factual reporting.
Dr. Leticia Appiah; Executive Director, Population Council of Ghana underscored human capital as a critical resource that governments have to harness in order to reap the demographic dividend. And that Africa’s development heavily relies on a healthy population. “For Africa to achieve the outlined Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) and the AU Agenda 2063, we have to shift focus on improving the Sexual and Reproductive Health of all women and girls. They encompass a huge chunk of Africa’s population that has to be harnessed. She Said.
She urged reporters to bring out the subtle SRHR issues that threaten the development of Africa.
Similarly, Mark Okundi, Programs Officer at #RightByHer program urged reporters to use their pens as barrels to hold governments accountable on the commitments that they make around health and gender policies.
“It is your duty to probe our leaders on the commitments they make as they sign some of these regional charters and documents.” Advised Mr. Okundi.
The journalists also joined the IPPF Journalists Network team as new champions for the #RightByHer. They signed up their commitment messages for the #RightByHer movement and joined the existing champions from Kenya, Togo, Burkina and Cameroon who were also present during the training.
The training took place on the side-lines of the Review of the Addis Ababa Declaration on Population and Development (AADPD) which also has clear reservations on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights for Women and Girls in Africa.
Lorna Andisi is a Kenyan Journalist and a member of IPPFAR African Journalist Network. She writes on SRHR issues for her blog; Lorna's Musings. She also blogs with Girls Globe. In addition, she is a reporter at African Slum Journal. Twitter @Komba_lorna