By Rose Kamera
Media practitioners in the country have been challenged to champion and raise awareness on the risks of early and unintended pregnancy in a bid to end the vice.
United Nations Educations Scientific and Cultural Organization-UNESCO Malawi Liaison Officer Charles Frighton Mazinga said this on the sidelines of a capacity building workshop for media practitioners on Early and Unintended Pregnancy-EUP in Lilongwe.
According to Mazinga, media practitioners are very key in raising awareness among people in communities because they have the power to shape people’s opinions hence the need to scale up their efforts on EUP.
Mazinga said the country is still facing challenges in dealing with early and unintended pregnancy due to among other things lack of information on sexual reproductive health and rights and low uptake of modern contraceptives.
He said this has seen Malawi failing to achieve the target committed in 2013 by the Eastern and Southern Africa to reduce early and unintended pregnancy by 75% by 2020.
According to a UNESCO report of 2018 Malawi was ranked top of the list out of 21 countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa with the highest rate of early pregnancies which stands at 29%.
The report also revealed that issues of Child marriages continue to choke the country’s efforts in dealing with early and unintended pregnancy as statistics indicate that 42% of the girls marry before the age of 18.
According to UNESCO girls who get pregnant face stigma and discrimination from peers, parents and sometimes service providers.
This has affected the readmission of girls who dropped out of school due to pregnancy because they are discriminated by their friends as well as teachers.
Furthermore, the media victimize the girls even more due to negative reporting which comes as a result of lack of knowledge on policies and laws which protect girls hence the training.
UNESCO has therefore called on the media practitioners to accelerate their efforts in ensuring that people are aware of the dangers and risks of early and unintended pregnancy so that the country can make progress on the same.
The training attracted media practitioners from both print and electronic national and community media houses.