The right to enjoy good health, Africa Woman

Date: January 1, 1970
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A collaborative effort between the Zambian government, Care International, the World Health Organisation and UNICEF will be providing medical supplies to urban health clinics.

This article may be used to:
  • Examine subtle gender stereotypes in a story about access to maternal health that should have a clear gender perspective.
  • The importance of good sub-editing in creating a cohesive story.

Trainer’s notes

The opening paragraph of the story provides information about a partnership between the government, Care International, the World Health Organisation and UNICEF to provide medical supplies to urban clinics.
The inverted pyramid story structure suggests that the most information is mentioned in the first paragraph of the story. However in this story new information is mentioned in different paragraphs changing the subject of the story. This creates confusion as some of the information contradicts others. For example the opening paragraph speaks of ‘supplies to urban clinics’ while paragraphs five and six speak of nurses taking health care to patients homes and ‘the construction, renovation and equipping of health centres and rural maternity units …’ respectively.
Other issues raised in the story are:
  • Women unable to make choices about their own reproductive health and lives generally.
  • Men wanting to be a part of child birth processes.
  • Educating women on HIV/AIDS.
The inconsistencies in the story should have been picked up in the sub-editing process. The story lacks depth and direction because it focuses on so many issues.
There are subtle gender stereotypes woven into the story as the sentence “Certainly, women bear the burden of negligence when they lack information on safe motherhood and do not have money to sort out their problems.” illustrates. Other reference is made to women receiving counselling prior to marriage that urges them to be submissive. None of these statements are contextualised or critically analysed, they are presented as the way things are and not as issues that need to be challenged.
Training exercises
Exercise one: Read the article and answer the following questions:
  1. What is the main focus of the article? Can you identify a clear strand that runs through the article?
  2. What are some of the contradictions/confusions that emerge in the article?
  3. Identify the gender stereotypes that are evident in the article. Suggest alternative ways of presenting this information.

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