Wednesday, 4 May 2016

World Press Freedom Day, an opportunity to advance SRHR issues

Each year on 3 May, Malawian journalists join fellow scribes across the globe in commemorating the World Press Freedom day.

The main focus of the day is to evaluate press freedom, defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.  

The day is very significant not just to media practitioners alone but to the whole world as the media plays a watchdog role which is very critical to social and economic well-being of every human being.

 The media contributes a lot in its role of providing information, education as well as providing entertainment.
This year, media fraternity in the country will celebrate the day on Saturday, May 7 in the lakeshore district of Mangochi. 

This year’s World Press Freedom day will be commemorated under the theme; Access to Information and Fundamental Freedoms: This Is Your Right!

I would like to congratulate journalists for the noble job they do towards enhancing social and economic spheres of life in Malawi.  

However, there is a nagging fact which I would like to highlight as well. This is worry is about the insignificant media coverage of Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) issues.
I understand that editors want stories that can sell, stories that make headlines but we also need healthy people to read such stories. 

 I feel that our inattention to SRHR issues has grave consequences especially on the development of our country especially the youth who do not have adequate information about such issues.
The point am trying to raise here is that coverage of SRHR stories can have a huge impact to the development of young people. The media can promote young people’s health by empowering them with correct information that should enable them to make informed decisions in their lives.

The effect of the media needs no emphasis. This is a reliable tool that has an overwhelming effect on our lives. The media helps to form public opinion hence it is important that as we are commemorating this Day, we should also remember to cover issues that enhance the development of society.

According to United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), there are more than 1.8 billion young people who are under the age of 25. Thus; a quarter of the world’s population comprises the youth and as journalists we have an obligation to ensure that this 1.8 billion people have adequate and accurate SRHR information. Knowledge of SRHR issues will help the youth to prevent contracting Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) including HIV and avoid unwanted teen pregnancies.

Happy Press freedom day, long live journalists, more SRHR coverage!!!!!!!!!!!

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