The Youth Harvest Foundation Ghana, a youth development focused organization, has called on the media fraternity to prioritize issues of Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights so as to address challenges facing adolescents.
It said issues of adolescents’ development continued to be a major challenge and needed collective efforts from all stakeholders including the media, to increase awareness among adolescents and influence positive action from duty bearers.
Mrs Priscilla Nyaaba, the Executive Director of YHFG, made the call in Bolgatanga at a capacity building training workshop organized by the NGO for selected media practitioners from the Upper East and North East Regions.
The workshop was to enable the journalists fully understand and appreciate issues of adolescent sexual reproductive health and rights and report accurately.
The training was part of the YHFG advocacy initiative dubbed, “Evidence to Action: Sexual Health Education Advocacy Project (SHEAP)” sponsored by the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU), a Swedish based non-profit organization.
Mrs Nyaaba explained that the goal of the project was to produce data and evidence to support the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service to adopt and roll out an integrated adolescent health education curriculum in basic schools.
It would also contribute to addressing challenges confronting young people especially with regards to their sexual and reproductive health and rights in order to promote socio-economic development, reduce poverty, ensure gender parity and help efforts to achieve the SDGs.
In order to achieve this, Mrs Nyaaba said the YHFG and its partners had been working to strengthen the capacity of key stakeholders, communities and policy makers, to support the advocacy drive and to implement actionable strategies to address Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights issues.
“It also works to raise the awareness of sexual and reproductive health and rights issues among adolescents through adolescent-friendly and gender-sensitive information and messaging, strengthen their access to adolescent friendly health services so as to empower them to demand and stand for their rights,” she added.
The Executive Director recognized the critical role of the media in successful implementation of the project and indicated that the capacity building training was to equip the personnel with needed knowledge and skills to report accurately to influence positive action for sustainable development.
“Adolescent reproductive health issues have become more visible in the development agenda, but there is still more to done. We are therefore committed to building the capacity of our media practitioners to support the advocacy efforts on various adolescent health and socioeconomic development issues, including specific sexual and reproductive health and rights issues such as teenage pregnancy, child marriages, unsafe abortion and sexually transmitted diseases,” she said.
Mr Sumaila S. Saaka, the Managing Consultant, Founder of Turning Point Development, noted that the media had over the years played pivotal role in addressing issues of sexual and reproductive health and rights, however, there was the need to improve.
The Consultant explained that negative societal norms and cultural practices continued to hinder the efforts made in addressing issues of adolescents and urged the media to improve upon its watchdog role in the public domain by setting an agenda for positive public discourse.
He said “Journalists can report on violations and discriminations that women and girls face in relation to sexual and reproductive health and rights, support advocacy efforts of duty bearers to address the needs of adolescents, allocate resources for implementation of policies and partner civil society organisations and communities to help break cultural barriers of silence that is so entrenched in many societies.”