UNFPA releases part 3 of Nthambi animated series: Personifying agonies of Malawian girls

UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, has released part three of an animated series detailing the life of a Malawian girl-child captured through a character named Nthambi, a 17-year-old single mother from a rural setup.

Nthambi in one of the scenes in the animated series
Nthambi animated series personifying agonies of Malawian girls carrying a baby before the marriageable age.

The series has been running on UNFPA Facebook page, Twitter and YouTube channel from September up to November when the International Conference of Population and Development (ICPD) conference will end in Kenya.

Since the launch on 18th September, UNFPA is every week releasing a three-part series which forms an episode based on a specific theme.

According to UNFPA Resident Representative Won Young Hong, “Nthambi”s character is a product of extensive research and the story line will be informed by UNFPA’s vast experience in the area of sexual and reproductive health and rights.

“Her voice represents the aspiration of many girls who don’t have the platform to either enjoy or demand their sexual reproductive rights.”

Nthambi’s story starts when she hears, at a community meeting in her village, of the International Conference of Population and Development (ICPD) that will take place in Nairobi, Kenya in 12-14th November this year.  Although she does not know what she will find in the meeting of Nairobi, she decides to go there because she overheard girls like her will come and discuss the challenges they are going through.

“Driven by a will to change her circumstances, she takes a bus to the city in the hope of reaching Nairobi,” Young Hong explained.

Along the way, the adventure unfolds as she meets different characters who will expose her to the harsh realities of being a girl as well as a woman in Malawi while forming a unique friendship with people she meets on her way to support one another.

“The chance of meetings with different characters will shape her understanding on areas such as sexual reproductive health, HIV/AIDS and education,” Young Hong said, “Our hope is that through the journey of Nthambi, her friends and our audience will also learn a wide range of issues, challenges, and barriers related to sexual and reproductive health and rights adolescent girls and women are facing every day in Malawi.”

UNFPA has further made the animated series more engaging by also inviting feedback from its audience to shape the script hoping that this way, the animated series will capture some of the aspirations of the youth and how they want UN agencies to shape policy so that the youths can thrive within their own environment.

Despite some positive shifts, the Malawian adolescent girls and women still face a plethora of problems that range from social to structural, which often excludes them from standing for opportunity.

“Currently, we have a rate of teenage pregnancy in the country as it stands at 29 percent. To compound the problem, 30 percent of all maternal deaths occur in adolescents and that’s why we feel it’s important to raise such issues in series to stimulate debate and share knowledge so that we can have a better future for the adolescent girls and their children,” Young Hong observed.

The 2018 Population and Housing Census shows that girls lag behind on literacy as only 35.8 percent of them transition to secondary school compared to 40.9 percent for boys.

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