Launched in June 2013, the Mediating Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights in Southern Africa project is working to enhance the media’s capacity to positively report on issues around sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) of marginalised groups in Angola, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia. The project is providing practical training and logistical support for journalists to improve their awareness and understanding of SRHR issues, particularly related to stigma and discrimination for sexual minorities that can hinder access to services. The project is being implemented by Panos Institute Southern Africa with funding from the Swedish International Development Cooperative Agency (SIDA).

Communication Strategies: 

Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) is working to strengthen the capacity of media personnel to use a rights-based approach to report on SRHR issues as a means of countering hate speech against marginalised groups. The project combines practical training and logistical support to ensure that journalists are able to produce in-depth articles on reproductive health and HIV prevention services among sexual minorities that does not incite hatred and discrimination, but an understanding of their rights and an informed dialogue around SRHR and related issues as it related to minority groups.

The training sessions included media and legal experts, rights activists, and other stakeholders and covered issues such as constitutional rights, universal declared rights, and rights to health for marginalised groups. The trainings were designed to create an understanding that sexual minorities like men who have sex with men form a reasonable fraction of the region's infections, and because the issue of sexual minorities is excluded from most discussions, they are being excluded from HIV prevention and care services. Journalists were also made to understand that efforts to bring down HIV infection rates in a country could not be successful without including minority groups and that the media has a crucial role to play in this regard.

The project began with a stakeholders' workshop which brought together trainers from the participating countries and civil society organisations involved in SRHR in Zambia. The objective of the workshop was for key SRHR stakeholders to share, and contribute content towards the development of a training module designed to build positive investigative reporting on SRHR issues and to address the issue of hate speeches against vulnerable groups. The resulting module focuses on the legal aspect of SRHR and media reporting.

The stakeholders meeting was followed by regional training for media in each of the participating countries. Two trainings were held in August 2013, the first training in Malawi with journalists from Malawi and Zambia, and a second in Maputo, Mozambique, with journalists from Zambia and Mozambique. Another workshop was held in October 2013, in partnership with an Angolan organisation, Midia Em Accao. All workshops were attended by mainstream and community media journalists from both private and public media institutions.

People can also keep up to date with the project by following Mediating SRHR on Twitter.

Development Issues: 

Sexual and Reproductive Health, Media Development

Key Points: 

Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) is a regional non-profit, non-governmental communication for development organisation that uses communication methodologies to amplify the voices of the poor and marginalised to shape their own development. PSAf was founded in 1996 as a branch of Panos London, and became an autonomous institution in May 2005. With a regional office in Lusaka, Zambia, and country offices are in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Maputo, Mozambique, PSAf works in 12 Southern African nations.

Partner Text: 

Panos Institute Southern Africa, Swedish International Development Cooperative Agency (SIDA), Midia Em Accao