Guardian Development competition winners announced

16 Nov 2012 | Family planning
The winners of the 4th annual Guardian International Development Journalism Competition were announced at an event at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, last night.

Mariella Frostrup congratulated winner of the Achievement Award, Dr Kshama Metre; winner of the professional journalism category, Nele Mailin Obermueller; and winner of the amateur journalism category, Lucy-Anne Mizen.

The prestigious journalism competition seeks to shine a light on some of the most challenging issues facing the developing world today through impactful journalism while the Achievement Award recognises and honours an individual’s outstanding work to alleviate poverty in the developing world.

Dr Kshama Metre was honoured for her many years of work in remote rural communities in the Himalayas.

She is a paediatrician who left a flourishing practice in Delhi to provide healthcare to isolated Himalayan villagers and founded Chinmaya Organisation for Rural Development (CORD).

The organisation has established a multifaceted programme as a direct response to the multi-layer rural poverty that affects 70% of India’s population and through its 25 year history has worked with almost 700 remote communities to help them overcome many of the social and economic challenges they face.

Michael Tirrell, Lead - Global Media and Public Affairs at Marie Stopes International said:

Recognising those who have made a profound and significant contribution to international development and the alleviation of poverty in the developing world is hugely important.

Many of those who were nominated for this year’s award have given up their careers and made personal sacrifices to work for the good of disadvantaged communities – they are the unsung heroes of development.

Marie Stopes International is proud to support this award and recognise the great impact which people like Dr Kshama Metre make on the lives of those they work with.

The winners and all finalists of the journalism competition will have their articles published in a special supplement in the Guardian on Monday and Wednesday of next week.

Read the articles

The professional articles for this year’s Guardian Development Journalism competition have now been published. The work of Banja La Mtsogolo is profiled in a piece that looks at the positive effect task sharing is having on family planning in Malawi.

In the amateur category, family planning and its impact on young women’s lives is highlighted by Anna MacSwan’s following her visit to our Tanzania programme where she investigated sexual and reproductive health provision for young people.

Blog: Information – the first step to saving lives

In addition to her competition article, Anna has also written a blog for us about her visit which you can read below:

Here in the UK, it can be hard to see contraception as a life or death issue.

I was well aware of the statistics before going to Tanzania (worldwide, there would have been 79,000 fewer pregnancy related deaths this year had family planning been available to all women who need it) but still tended to see its benefits in terms of lifestyle.

Clearly access to pills, condoms and IUDs and the freedom to use them would improve a woman’s health, give her the option of having a career and enable her to better provide for her family - but save her life?

Earlier this year I had the privilege of going to Tanzania with Marie Stopes as part of the Guardian’s International Development Journalism Competition.

My assignment was on youth and why family planning use is so low amongst this group in particular - in sub-Saharan Africa, fewer than one in five sexually active teens use a modern method.

So I spent the week asking the same question over and again to girls and boys from rural villages in Zanzibar and the bustling capital of Dar es Salaam - what makes it difficult for you to use contraception? Unanimously, the answer was lack of knowledge.

In Tanzania most people learn about sexual health and family planning through word of mouth, NGOs or the internet - although it is part of the school curriculum, the focus is on HIV and condom demonstration is prohibited.

What struck me most during my week there was being asked by a girl my age if it was true that the pill could make you infertile.

After asking these questions, the 79,000 began to seem more plausible. When so little is known about reproductive health, the risks associated with unwanted pregnancy, not least unsafe abortions, are trumped by so many other factors - often in the case of young Tanzanians, being caught out as being sexually active before marriage.

The good news is that things are changing, with teenage pregnancy having fallen considerably in Zanzibar in particular.

Most of all, I also met Tanzanians from all generations, from teenage peer educators to a 60 year old woman who has set up a charity to educate youth about sexual health, who are fighting for young people to be able to assert their right to these vital services.