Reproductive Health Takes Centre Stage at Kigali Conference

Reproductive health matters took centre stage at the Kigali media conference drawing participation from eight countries.

The conference organized by the African Women’s Development and Communication Network-FEMNET was held at Onomo Hotel from May 28-30 2019.

Zambia was represented by Wellington Moyo (ZNBC) Doreen Chilumbu (Zambia Daily Mail) Whitney Mulobela (NGOCC), Sally Chiwama (Gender Activist), Meluse Kapatamoyo (Freelance Journalist) and Mike Sichula (Phoenix FM).

The participants joined the call for the rights of women and girls to be given more prominence in national discourse.

Among the subjects tackled were genital mutilation, rape, defilement, early marriages, wife inheritance and rites of passage,

The Media Training attracted forty journalists from eight countries namely Rwanda, Tanzania, Guinea, Ghana, Liberia, Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia.

A Kenyan representative Merceline Nyambala, who is also the executive director of the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) has called for solidarity amongst African women in media to ensure that issues impacting on women and girls get prominent placement in media platforms.

“We have seen the devastation in terms of the numbers. We have unpacked the gaps in terms of delivery and service for SRHR now it is time for us to consolidate all our efforts to ensure that governments deliver on commitments and that our women and girls are safe,” she said.

And Zambia’s team leader Sally Chiwama, a women’s rights journalist regretted that despite policies and legal framework being in place by different governments the continent still had serious problems like lack of access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Meanwhile FEMNET Executive Board member based in Ghana Dr. Charity Binka reiterated that African governments need to rise and protect their women by providing better sexual reproductive health.

According to the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, between 100 and 140 million women and girls have undergone FGM and approximately 3 to 4 million women and girls are at risk of the procedure annually; including in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Somalia and Ethiopia.

The UNFPA also attests there are over 800 women dying each day from complications in pregnancy and childbirth in Africa – many of which could easily be prevented by provision of adequate and timely health care and reproductive health services.

Africa is home to 15 of the 20 countries with the highest rate of child marriages in the world. It is estimated that every day 37,000 girls under the age of 18 enter into forced marriages, a practice which effectively curtails girls’ education, minimizes economic opportunities and perpetuates cycles of poverty and violence.

It is estimated that if left alone, the total number of child marriages in Africa will rise from 125 million to 310 million by 2050 as the population grows.

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