Stoddard: Bill Ryerson, Global Vermonter
In his office in Shelburne VT, Bill Ryerson, founder and president of Population Media Center or PMC is unassuming, as he jokes about a foot-high stack of folders on his desk he still needs to deal with at the end of the day, before resuming a relentless travel schedule.
(Ryerson) Well, next week I will be in Washington DC speaking at the International Best Practices Meeting. The following day I’m speaking at the Inter-American Development Bank and have several other meetings. Then I fly to Ethiopia. I’ll spend nine days there with our country representative, meeting with donor agencies like UN agencies and embassies, to seek their support for what we hope will be our ninth program on Radio Ethiopia.
He’s pitching soap opera as one of the most powerful catalysts for social change. Ryerson has worked in more than 50 countries using the power of entertainment media to shift behavior patterns. PMC’s popular radio and TV serial dramas with compelling characters as role models, have led to significant change in both attitude and actions.
(Ryerson) We’ve reached well over a hundred million people. We have clearly seen dramatic increases in family planning use, dramatic increases in willingness to send daughters to school, which of course is a very important factor in both human rights, the human rights of women to be educated, and in delaying marriage and child-bearing until adulthood.