United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) has launched a campaign called ‘Let’s Talk’ to reduce early and unintended pregnancies (EUP) in 21 countries in eastern and southern Africa, including Malawi.
Through the project, Unesco will work with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), SafAids and Save the Children Sweden in implementing the social and behaviour change campaign.
All the organisations are members of the technical coordinating group for the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) Ministerial Commitment of 2013 on comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services to which Malawi is a part.
Speaking during the launch on Wednesday evening in Johannesburg, South Africa, Unesco Regional Office for Southern Africa director Hubert Gijzen said EUP is affecting an increasing number of adolescent girls and young women in the two regions and there is no better time to effect change than now.
He said it is important for various stakeholders, whose actions have got an impact on the prevention and management of EUP among the affected age groups, to initiate serious conversations aimed at changing behaviours and social norms that worsen the problem.
“Let the education sector know that time is now to integrate pregnancy topics in the curricula. Let boys and young men be part of the early and unintended conversation because they are surely part of the problem.
“I hope that the campaign will give people the platform to talk about early and unintended pregnancy as well as how it can be addressed instead of leaving the burden to the affected adolescent girls and young women as well as their families,” said Gijzen.
In her remarks, UNFPA East and Southern Africa Regional Office (Esaro) director Julitta Onabanjo said there is need to have a paradigm shift from talk to action to eliminate EUP.
One of the delegates from Malawi, Parliamentary Committee on Education, Science and Technology chairperson Brainax Kaise, who is also Nkhotakota South legislator, said it is good that the country is among the 13 focus countries because EUP is serious.