Hit Radio Show Brings Family Planning, Gender Equality Information to Nearly 2 Million People

January 2, 2020 • News

Burundian drummers playing drums on their headsBurundian drummers playing drums on their heads

Following the sweeping popularity of the first season of Agashi (“Hey! Look Again!”), PMC launched a second season to widespread acclaim in Burundi. With 208 episodes, Agashi 2 addressed a number of key themes including reproductive health, gender equality, family planning, hygiene, and nutrition. And Agashi 2 brought in a huge audience again, with 75% of those surveyed saying that they had heard of the show. That’s 1.8 million people and an estimated one million Burundians listening loyally to more than half of the episodes.

“We are very excited at the results from Agashi 2— after listening to the show, youth listeners are significantly more aware of sexual health topics and adult listeners are significantly more aware of proper nutrition, hygiene, family planning methods, and how to support peers with mental disorders. We are working on core issues. How can we reduce family size when women do not have the ability to properly negotiate sex with their husbands?” says Jean Bosco Ndayishimiye, Resident Representative of PMC-Burundi.

PMC’s unique method for creating entertaining shows is specifically designed to inform and inspire, empowering audiences to learn and change. As with all of PMC’s shows, a comprehensive study was completed to assess the show’s popularity and impact on listeners’ knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors.

The results were impressive across a number of themes. For reproductive health, listeners were 1.6 times more likely than non-listeners to respond that they do think women can choose when they want to have sex with their husband. This is crucial because it’s often assumed that married women must have sex whenever their husband desires it, or believe that if you are married, there is no such thing as rape. The fact that listeners believed women can negotiate sex demonstrates a perceived social norm that PMC wishes to perpetuate – that marriage does not eliminate a woman’s right to choose if and when she has sex.

Listeners were also more likely to know about a variety of forms of contraception, and 1.5 times more likely to say that they believe people in their community approve of the use of contraception.

“So much depends on how people perceive actions – whether they think something is “normal” or not. That’s one of the biggest values of our shows, to help people think things like gender equality and contraception are normal, so that without the stigma they can then decide if these decisions are a good possibility for their own personal situation,” says Kriss Barker, Vice President of International Programs.

For gender equality, listeners were 1.7 times more likely than non-listeners to think that it is normal for a husband to help his wife with housework. Examples given included getting water, cooking, or collecting firewood. Again, this perception of parity across genders is essential for eliminating strict gender binaries around roles and expectations.

When asked about the importance of addressing gender roles and gender-based violence in Burundi, Ndayishimiye highlighted their connection to various issues Burundians face daily. “Men and women across Burundi experience high rates of sexual violence. This partly explains the existence of other societal phenomena, including low family planning rates, malnutrition, problems accessing education, and wider violence. How can we reduce the malnutrition rates of children and pregnant women when women experience a diverse range of violence on a daily basis? How can we achieve a desirable rate of immunization coverage for babies when their mothers do not have incomes to meet the daily needs of their families? To overcome a lot of problems Burundians face in both health and society, we must first eliminate sexual and gender-based violence.”

“We are pleased with the results of Agashi 2, just as we were with Agashi 1, and we look forward to continuing our work in Burundi,” concludes Barker, saying that Agashi 3 is expected to continue PMC’s impact.


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