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UNESCO in partnership with UNFPA, SAfAIDS, and Save the Children Sweden launched the Let’s Talk! campaign on the 31st of July 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.Let’s Talk! is a social and behaviour change campaign to reduce early and unintended pregnancies (EUP) across 21 countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region, which has one of the highest adolescent fertility rates in the world. The campaign will be implemented until December 2020, and envisions an Eastern and Southern Africa region where all adolescents are empowered and have the knowledge, information, agency and support to prevent early and unintended pregnancy and reach their full potential

The campaign launch was attended by at least 150 participants from 13 countries across ESA region, which included the SADC PF Secretary General, South Africa Minister of Basic Education, Lesotho Minister of Education and Training, Zimbabwe Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, and other government officials from Ministry of Education and Health; #LetsTalkEUP Ambassador DJ Zinhle, Sida, Packard Foundation, UNESCO, UNFPA, SAfAIDS, Save the Children, and PCI Media representatives. Media practitioners from print and electronic media houses across the 13 countries also attended the launch.

The #LetsTalkEUP Ambassador, renowned DJ Zinhle, graced the stage at the launch and performed a song which she has produced exclusively for the campaign. The song features the campaign pillars of health, education and rights, within the context of EUP.  It will aim to engage and excite young people across the region, building upon DJ Zinhle’s immense popularity and appeal. 

The launch event overall introduced the campaign to the high-level stakeholders and raised awareness on the magnitude of EUP, as well as the need to implement preventative actions to address its devastating social and economic impacts, especially for the lives of adolescent girls and young women, but also men and boys and societies as a whole.

Speaking at the launch, UNESCO Regional Director, Professor Hubert Gijzen applauded governments for their dedication and commitment towards prioritising the lives of future generations. He called upon governments and other stakeholders to coordinate efforts in addressing Early and Unintended Pregnancy, as this is an issue that is compounded and affected by multiple factors including, policies, cultural practices, and the health and education systems.

The South Africa Minister of Basic Education, Honourable Angelina Motshekga emphasised that EUP has adverse impact on educational opportunities, achievements and future of adolescents, especially the girl child. She reiterated the need for coordinated efforts to accelerate progress in the prevention and management of EUP in the country as well as regionally. The “Let’s Talk!” campaign will continue to be rolled out at the country level in the coming weeks, including country-specific launch events across the ESA region

Media practitioners from print and electronic media houses across 13 countries in East and Southern Africa (ESA) are making concerted efforts to tackle Early and Unintended Pregnancy (EUP) in the region. This builds on from a 3-day training organized by UNESCO from the 29th to the 31st of July in Johannesburg, as well as other initiatives. The overall objective of the training was to equip the practitioners with skills to report on early and unintended pregnancy (EUP, promote EUP reportage onto the media agenda; and to come up with an EUP media practitioners community of practice.

In order to amplify efforts to reduce EUP, UNESCO partnered with UNFPA, SAfAIDS and Save the Children Sweden and developed a multimedia campaign, which will be implemented across 21 countries the region until December 2020. The campaign, branded  “Let’s Talk!”, was launched on the 31st of July, and will continue to be rolled out at the country level in the coming weeks, including country-specific launch events across the ESA region.

One of the key goals for the campaign is to be inclusive and bring together different audiences for conversations and collaborative action. In order to achieve this goal, the media practitioners will increasingly play a crucial role in raising awareness on EUP through various media platforms including print, television and radio, and overall creating space for different audiences to engage and dialogue on core issues in addressing EUP. In order to showcase acquired skills and strengthened capacities, a number of the media practitioners published articles on EUP as well as the launch.

Speaking at the meeting, UNESCO Regional HIV and Health Education Advisor (ESA), Dr. Patricia Machawira emphasized that preventing EUP is an important component of a wider response to ensuring the right to education for all girls. UNESCO advocates for countries to provide CSE that develops learners’ knowledge and skills to prevent pregnancy and make healthy and informed decisions about their sexual lives. Good quality CSE integrates content on pregnancy prevention, gender equality, power dynamics within relationships and preventing gender-based violence.

The 3-day training concluded with the media practitioners formulating clear roadmaps on how media will be utilized to support the Let’s Talk campaign at country level, and overall raise awareness on EUP.