African journalists have been called upon to focus on and collaborate with stakeholders to address issues affecting children, girls, and women, working to end harmful cultural practices and abuses to promote sustainable development.
Dr Esther Muia, Head of the UNFPA Representation Office to the African Union Economic Commission of Africa, emphasized the importance of evidence-based, culturally sensitive reporting that can influence positive policy reforms and legal frameworks.
This call was made during a three-day media training workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, organized by the African Union Commission (AUC) with support from UNFPA, UNICEF, Plan International, and the Global Media Campaign to End FGM.
The workshop aimed to enhance the capacity of media practitioners from West, Central, and Northern Africa to report sensitively on ending child marriage and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Dr. Muia stressed that addressing issues related to children, girls, and women is vital for meaningful development in Africa. She highlighted the harmful cultural practices of child marriage and FGM, which continue to impact women and girls across the continent.
UNICEF statistics revealed that millions of girls and women in Africa experience child marriage and FGM, leading to adverse effects on their well-being and development.
The workshop emphasized the media's role in driving positive change. Ms Nena Thundu, Coordinator of the Ending Harmful Practices Unit at the AUC, noted that media practitioners have the power to lead campaigns against harmful practices and urged collaboration with stakeholders at national and community levels.
The importance of journalists' involvement was further highlighted by Mr. Sandy McCleery, the Development Counsellor of the United Kingdom Office to the African Union.
He highlighted the economic impact of eliminating child marriage, urging journalists to contribute by presenting accurate information and avoiding stigmatization in their reporting.