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Behind the scenes of communications - Stephane's perspective

By: Stephane Kirenga, Dhaka, Bangladesh

I’m a fourth-year student at the University of Ottawa, studying political science and communication. I’m currently working remotely for the United Nations Population Fund in Bangladesh as a communication officer. As a member of the communication team, I’m working with various UNFPA’s sections to effectively communicate the core message of the agency throughout every social platform and information release. Recently, I’ve been given the task to revise and redact the Gender Equality Movement in Schools (GEMS) curriculum manual and to improve the quality of the document. The manual was originally written in Bengali and translated into English and needed to be upgraded. This project is managed by UNFPA’s Adolescent and Youth leadership team.

Moreover, I’ve had the opportunity to experience the work that goes behind the official e-launch of the State of the World Population report (SWOP). The annual SWOP report is UNFPA’s flagship publication on the state of the population and every year the focus is on specific issues and themes. The 2020 publication, entitled “Against My Will” is focused on the types of harmful practices against women and girls. Particularly, the three widespread harmful practices: female genital mutilation, child marriage and son preference. As part of the communication team, I was tasked with compiling numerous articles and news coverage of this year’s publication. This media monitoring allows us to collect data, provides us with an overview and understanding of how the report was perceived.

While working from home is truly different, I love the work experience I’ve gained with UNFPA. It has been a very unique experience, I’ve enjoyed the tasks they’ve given me, especially the trusted responsibilities to redact a very important piece of document such as the GEMS project. Although my observations and analyses of Dhaka has been entirely virtual and uniquely different, as we’re all dealing with the Covid-19 global pandemic, one thing I’m learning about my host country is that this relatively small south asian country is one the most densely populated countries in the world. It is also a very young country as less than 8% are 65 or older. Given my placement within the United Nations Population Fund in Bangladesh, my entire observations are mainly in virtue of the work UNFPA has done and is doing in Bangladesh. As a matter of fact, this frame of reference has completely transformed my initial ideas and conception about a wide range of issues that I took for granted such as life expectancy, harmful practices, fertility rate and childbirth among others. Living in Canada has in a way been a shield to the reality of issues still so relevant today such as basic education opportunities for young girls and women, safe childbirth or even child marriages.

Unfortunately, in Bangladesh women don’t always have safe places to give birth as access to essential resources isn't available to everyone. For example, Bangladesh is one of the areas most affected by natural disasters and climate change (heavy floods, cyclones, landslides etc..) and becomes difficult for certain women to access medical services. Also, the rate of child marriages is one of the highest in the world which leads to girls not given opportunities to go to school, which leads to poverty and in turn contributes to the “low status” of women. In part, my host country gives me the opportunity to completely recognize and appreciate the ultra-important mandate of UNFPA because Bangladesh is a focal point of their mission.


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