Caribbean journalists will vie for more than US$6,000 in cash prizes, airline tickets and hotel stays when the 2003 United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Media Awards takes place in Jamaica this November. This year`s awards are open to all Caribbean-based journalists covering “Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights” issues in the region. This includes stories or reports on curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS, early initiation of sexual activity, fostering behavioural change, promoting gender equality, sexual exploitation (including sex tourism) and population, poverty reduction and sustainable development.
According to Mrs. Hetty Sarjeant, Kingston-based UNFPA Representative for the English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean, the media have played an important role in highlighting and helping our countries address the sexual and reproductive health rights challenges, including the high incidence of HIV/AIDS, facing the Caribbean`s young people. “In many ways HIV/AIDS is as much a social problem as a health one. In this sub-region, it is primarily transmitted by sexual intercourse, an activity often shrouded in secrecy and shame. In most countries, the stigma surrounding the disease makes it difficult to help protect those at risk of contracting the virus and to care for those who are ill. Above all, HIV feeds on the deep divisions within our societies - illiteracy, ignorance, poverty and inequality between the sexes - and deepens those divisions by making communities poorer,” said Sarjeant, noting that the media should be encouraged to provide continued leadership in reporting these issues.
Sarjeant explained that young girls are perhaps the most vulnerable to the epidemic. “Not only are they physiologically more susceptible but prevailing social conditions in many countries of the Caribbean also serve to increase their risks. These include early initiation into sex, coercive sex, rape, incest, domestic violence, and the phenomenon of the predatory “sugar daddy”,” she said, disclosing that increasingly, many older men seek sex in younger girls in the belief that they are not likely to be infected with HIV, or, more ominously, in the mistaken notion that sex with a virgin is a cure for HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted infections. “The vulnerability of children and adolescents, and the role of commercial and transactional sex in the overall transmission dynamic of the epidemic in the region require urgent attention. We simply must do the analysis, formulate adequate and effective policy frameworks and design targeted interventions in order to control the problem - the media can help us with this.”
The 2003 UNFPA Caribbean Media Awards will recognise writers, editors, broadcasters and media houses for work published or broadcast between September 30, 2002 and September 30, 2003 in print, radio and television categories. Entries will be accepted at respective United Nations Resident Coordinator offices in Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago c/o Mrs. Hetty Sarjeant, UNFPA Representative, Kingston, Jamaica or sent directly to United Nations Population Fund, 60 Knutsford Boulevard, 8th Floor, Kingston, Jamaica. Deadline for entries is Wednesday, October 1, 2003.
Entries will be accepted from the following Caribbean territories:
Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Netherland Antilles, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Turks and Caicos Islands and Trinidad and Tobago.
.Multiple or joint entries will be accepted.
.Entrants should send two copies each of their entry or entries.
.A written transcript assists judging radio and TV entries.
.Entries will be accepted for news reports, features, series, human interest stories, on-air contributions to public debate, soap operas, films and documentaries.
.Investigative work is welcome.
Confronting sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, is an urgent challenge, especially in the Caribbean sub-region, which has the highest incidence of HIV/AIDS after sub-Saharan Africa. Given the threat of HIV and high teenage fertility rates, more attention needs to be given to reproductive health information and services for adolescents. UNFPA supports programming in all these areas, and is active in multi-agency, multi-sectoral processes to catalyze sustainable economic and social development within the framework of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals