Nepal has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with Girls Not Brides reporting 41 percent of Nepali girls being married before they are 18 years old. Population Media Center (PMC), an international nonprofit entertainment company, addressed child marriage as a key issue in two entertaining radio series. Now, evaluation results are coming in showing PMC listeners in Nepal as 2.1 times more likely to have taken action to discourage child marriage.
Mai Sari Sunakhari (“Orchid, Like Me”) ran for two years (208 episodes, broadcast 2016-2018) in the Nepali language. PMC’s other drama, Hilkor (“Ripples in the Water”), ran for one year (104 episodes) in the local Maithili language and was then rebroadcast so that both broadcasts ran from 2016-2018.
These long-running shows end each episode with cliffhangers in the storylines, allowing people to get drawn into the characters as the action unfolds. In addition to child marriage, the shows also addressed girls’ education, gender equality, reproductive health, and family planning. Both shows were funded by the Kendeda Fund, which focuses on girls’ rights as one of its five programmatic areas of funding.
“I have learned to say no and take a stand against child marriage in any situation,” says one female listener. “Sometimes parents can force you, but you should never get married that young. We need to be confident about our life and future. We should be mature and complete our education and be self-dependent before taking decision of marriage.”
PMC monitors its entertainment programming impact carefully, during broadcast and post-broadcast, using a mixed-methods approach. Results from Nepal demonstrate that listeners to both shows were 2.1 times more likely to have taken action to discourage child marriage. Other indicators include:
PMC’S approach to entertainment and social change has helped more than 500 million people live healthier lives in more than 50 countries. With more than a quarter million people listening to these shows every week for two years, PMC is pleased to have provided good storytelling and entertainment, and even more pleased to have improved the likelihood of girls’ education, spousal communication, and other components that remove the underpinnings that support child marriage. By changing attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, PMC helps ensure that girls get to be girls instead of child brides.