Media Must Simplify Issues for Ordinary People to Understand – UNFPA


Assistant Representative at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Melissa McNeil-Barrett, has said that the media have a role to play in simplifying important issues so that ordinary citizens can understand them.
“So often, we talk about the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the man in the street doesn’t understand what it means and, therefore, doesn’t see the connection it has to his or her own life,” Mrs. McNeil-Barrett noted.
“One of the critical roles of the media (is) to bring these issues to the general public in a way that they can understand,” she stated at a media sensitisation workshop on population and development issues held on Tuesday (July 14) at the Terra Nova All Suite Hotel in Kingston.
She also pointed to the need for the media to highlight best practices and interventions in achieving the targets of the ICPD and the MDGs, noting that “a lot of work is taking place by different partners, Government, civil society and so on, which are contributing to the attainment of these goals.”
Noting that the UNFPA’s main areas of work include reproductive health, population and development strategies, and gender equality, she pointed out that the organisation is guided by the ICPD and the MDGs as they are both blueprints for development and were integrally intertwined.
The MDGs are eight goals to be achieved by 2015 and are in response to the world’s main development challenges. They are drawn from the actions and targets contained in the Millennium Declaration that was adopted by 189 nations during the United Nations Millennium Summit in September 2000.
The MDGs are to: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development.
“The MDGs represent a change in terms of some of the development commitments that we have seen in the past, primarily because the goals are smart, so they are specific, measureable,” Mrs. McNeil-Barrett noted.
In highlighting the MDGs, she said the media could place focus on women’s issues, including reproductive health in the current economic climate; the high unemployment rate of women; and the barriers affecting women’s participation in governance. “We know, for example, in Jamaica there are about 13 per cent of women represented in Parliament, and that is also one of the indicators of MDG number three,” she pointed out. The underperformance of boys and young men should also be of concern, she said.
In terms of the ICPD, which was held in Cairo, in 1994, Mrs. McNeil-Barrett informed that 179 governments endorsed a 20-year Programme of Action to stabilise the population growth and improve living standards, gender equality and the environment.
The central premise of the ICPD is that population considerations need to be an integral part of national and international efforts to achieve sustained economic growth in the context of sustainable development.
The workshop, hosted by the UNFPA’s Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean in collaboration with the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), focussed on the role of the media in the achievement of Jamaica’s human development, including the achievement of the ICPD and the MDG.
It aimed to deepen participants’ understanding of their role in raising awareness and enhancing public knowledge of the development agenda as outlined in the ICPD and MDGs.

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