The Population Foundation of India (PFI) and the Women’s Feature Service (WFS) held a consultation on September 29, 2016, on ‘Writing Family Planning and Reproductive Health into the Nation’s Priority: Tracking Media Coverage and Trends’. The consultation brought together representatives from the media and family planning experts and advocates to explore the role each of them plays in bringing the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) issue to the forefront of policy and government attention.
The consultation had two main sessions. Session I - traced the comprehensive narrative of family planning and Session II - discussed the reporting of SRHR concerns in the media. The panelists and moderator for the consultation included senior media representatives, Ms Neerja Chowdhury (political columnist and commentator),Mr Alok Mehta (Editor, Outlook), Ms Nidhi Kulpati (Senior Anchor, NDTV India), Mr Mukesh Kejariwal (Special Correspondent, Dainik Bhaskar), Ms Asha Ramachandran (Assistant Editor, The Statesman), Ms Himanshi Dhawan (Senior Assistant Editor, The Times of India) and Ms Nisha Narayan (COO – 93.5 RED FM). Ms Poonam Muttreja represented the civil society and the public health community at the consultation.
Global evidences have established that access to family planning and reproductive health services directly improves nutrition and wellness of women, apart from enabling them to enter the workforce. The consultation brought together media and family planning advocates and experts to explore the role each plays in bringing the issue to the forefront of policy and government attention. The country has only recently re-aligned its focus on reproductive health and family planning away from a target based or “population control” prism, towards a right-based approach to family planning.
Speaking at the occasion, Ms Muttreja said, “Media is a vital ally and partner for all of us who work to improve the access to sexual and reproductive health rights for the youth and adolescents. Media plays a crucial role in bringing issues on family planning to the attention of the policy makers and influencers, however, the coverage or attention to stories on family planning remains negligible. This consultation is an attempt towards changing this and initiating a robust and sustained debate on family planning, women’s health and reproductive rights. We wish to see family planning become part of the mainstream media narrative.”
A book titled ‘India’s Family Planning Programme: Policies, Practices and Challanges’ authored by Prof LeelaVisaria and Dr RajaniVed was introduced at the meeting.