African health journalists, fashion designers, film makers and singers will have another chance to win lucrative Merck Foundation 2021 awards for reporting on fertility, creating impactful face mask designs and producing songs that empower women in times of COVID-19.
The awards were announced this weekend by Senator Dr. Rasha Kelej, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Foundation during an online health media training conducted by health and media experts from across Africa.
The training followed the April 29, 2021 high level meeting of African First Ladies- who are also Ambassadors of the Foundation program dubbed “More than a Mother”, along health experts and Ministers who shared country experiences on a number of health issues and strategies to improve health facilities especially infertility stigma among women under COVID-19 .
Senator Rasha Kelej said African media is very crucial in promoting massive awareness to end stigmatization of infertile women and called on the media to remain focused on writing stories that convey the message to change the negative perception about infertile women among their respective communities as this would help end stigmatization of infertility.
The awards include: the “Merck Foundation More than a Mother Africa Media Recognition Awards 2021” for African media professionals to showcase their work on raising awareness on infertility, breaking its stigma and raising awareness through education in print, online, multimedia platforms across Africa.
Winners in multimedia will walk away with $1000, while winners in print, online and radio stories will each get $500.
With COVID-19 pandemic the foundation also announced first of its kind new awards categories in fashion which will see fashion designers win awards for designs that send a strong and influential message on infertility, breaking its stigma and education.
Ten winners in the fashion category will be selected and offered $500 each to execute the design concepts. However due to covid-19 the award will have a special category dubbed “Make Your Own Mask Fashion”- which will also award ten top designs.
“I’m glad to announce ‘Merck Foundation Make Your Own Mask Fashion 2021’. I welcome African Fashion Designers and Students to create and share designs of masks and other clothing items that carry messages to encourage people to wear masks,” Kelej revealed.
In the songs category- the foundation said it will award all singers, musical artists who will create and share a song to empower women through education at all levels. The best will walk away with $1000, second best with $700 and $500 for the third prize.
“I am an African who love art and songs though I don’t have a good voice. Yet, I take pleasure in announcing all sorts of creative art media awards-fashion, film, song awards- which can help breaking the infertility stigma,” Kelej said.
In the film awards, the foundation also invited students and film makers to come up with a film or documentary drama (Docudrama) to deliver strong messages and awareness on infertility. They will also walk away with $1000, second best with $700 and $500 for the third prize.
She revealed that the last two categories will also get mentorship programs and online training with music and film stars from Hollywood, California in the U.S.
All applicants are expected to submit their works before August 31, 2021, except for the ‘Make Your Own Mask Fashion’ entry whose deadline is set for 30th September 2021.