Training webinars conclude with a call for increased SRHR ethical reporting in the context of COVID-19

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KATHMANDU: Four separate two day- long virtual training programs have been successfully concluded with a call for increased media reporting on the Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) issues in the context of COVID-19 pandemic in Nepal. A total of 40 young health journalists from seven provinces and the Kathmandu valley were selected on the basis of their interest and experience to participate in the training. 26 women journalists participated in this training meaning more than 50 percent of the participants in the training were women journalists.

The virtual training was organized by Media Action Nepal (MAN) in collaboration with ADRA, Nepal with support from the UNFPA and the UKaid after a recent study carried out by MAN indicated that Nepali media has often failed to prioritize sexual and reproductive health rights issues or report them in an accurate manner.Screenshot 96

The journalists were divided into four groups and were provided two-day long training on various dimensions of SRHR, ethical reporting and gender sensitive journalism. The first and second groups of journalists from Kathmandu valley received the training on October 29-30 and on October 31 to November 1 respectively. The third group of journalists from Sudurpaschim, Karnali and Lumbini Provinces were trained on the issues on November 2-3 and the fourth group representing Provinces 1, 2, Bagmati and Gandaki were capacitated on SRHR issues during the training sessions that took place on November 7-8.

Chairperson of Media Action Nepal Mr. Laxman Datt Pant said, ‘We are focusing on SRHR issues in context of COVID-19 as it is women and other sexual minorities that are mostly affected during any pandemic or disaster.” A shift in reporting with focus on exposing perpetrators and making the duty bearers accountable in ensuring SRHR is the need of today’s journalism, Pant added.2 1

Advocacy and Communication Specialist of UNFPA, Mr. Santosh Chettri said, “There are news being covered regarding family planning but the way it is reported and the focus of the news needs to be changed. Journalists must raise the issue of Family planning with its focus as rights of women. IPCD is an important document that needs to be considered while reporting on the issues of Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Family Planning”

Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Expert of ADRA Nepal, Ms. Radhika Ghimire stated that there are efforts being made by the Government of Nepal and other organizations towards improving Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights and Family Planning yet the general public lacks the information on the SRHR and media can play an important role to address this information gap.2 2

Dr Laxmi Tamang, Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Expert and the Chairperson of Midwifery Society of Nepal mentored the journalists on historical background of Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights and Family Planning, differences between Family Planning and Contraception/Contraceptive, importance of Family Planning and contraception , modern methods of contraception, effectiveness of contraceptive methods, identifying target population and uses of contraceptives, identifying the elements of quality care, situation of family planning and contraception during COVID-19 and the role of journalists to advance family planning or contraception.223

“Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights and Family Planning is often associated with the shame, culture and tradition but it is the issue that needs to be raised and talked about openly,” Tamang said. Journalists have an important role to ensure that the policy makers are being accountable and responsible and the general public is receiving the information in a way that is easy for them to understand, she added.2121

Ms. Kalpana Acharya, Chairperson of Health Journalists Forum took sessions on media coverage trend on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights and Family Planning, the role of media in ensuring Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights and minimizing Maternal Mortality Rate, exposing women’s suffering during pandemic with focus on violence against women and pandemic and its impact on women and girls. “While reporting on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights and Family Planning, it is important to apply the principle of Do No Harm,” she advised.

Mr Laxman Datt Pant, lead trainer and chairperson of Media Action Nepal delivered sessions on Ethics, Self-regulation and Social Responsibility of Media and Gender Sensitivity in Reporting.Screenshot 97

15 journalists would qualify for the fellowship program based on their work experiences, interest and performance during the training.