Yam Yankré: Creating Agents of Change

July 28, 2021 • Burkina Faso, News

A man presenting a t-shirt prize to another man. The shirt reads, "Yam Yankre, The Choice."A man presenting a t-shirt prize to another man. The shirt reads, "Yam Yankre, The Choice."

PMC’s recent rebroadcast of the hit radio show, Yam Yankré (“The Choice”), in Burkina Faso is driving the individual and community change necessary to rewrite the script on reproductive health and the rights of women and girls. Inspired by the life-changing storylines in the 156-episode show, a trio of loyal listeners not only promote Yam Yankré amongst their peers but have also become advocates of a more equitable community, each in their own ways.

We’d like to introduce you to Awa, Raogo, and Justine.

Awa wearing a red shawl and long black skirt.
Awa Kirakoaya: A Super Fan

Awa first started listening to Yam Yankré in 2012 and continues to listen to the rebroadcast of the show. Her loyal listening led her to embody the show’s messaging and her belief and promotion in birth spacing landed her a nickname: Awa Birth Spacing. She felt deeply attached the messaging around reproductive health and family planning.

“Now I advise people on birth spacing. When I run into someone, I talk about it and people laugh at me because they think I talk too much. Eventually, I am called in my village ‘Awa birth spacing,’” shares Awa.

She loves her nickname and enjoys the ability to help people in her community learn about the benefits of family planning, including her daughters-in-law.

“I am the one accompanying them to the health center in choosing their family planning method. Currently, the birth spacing between their children is about three years,” explained Awa.

Raogo sitting in a blue uniform next to a friend.
Raogo Sibidi: For Family and Community

Raogo started listening to Yam Yankré on his own, but after a while his wife grew curious about what he always listening to.

“My wife reproached me for always hanging on to the radio and asked me what I was gaining by listening to this soap all the time. I had to take my time to explain to her the themes that were discussed and that this could bring an advantage to our family. Since then, she listens to the soap opera like me,” shared Raogo.

Although his wife was unsure at first, listening to the radio together helped them see that there are several family planning options available for them and their growing family. Plus, Raogo has shared Yam Yankré with other family members and even discusses the harmful effects of genital mutilation (FGM).

“I tell them that FGM is not a good thing. And to convince them, I make them listen to Yam Yankré on my cell phone. I think, little by little, they will change their behavior,” said Raogo.

Justine wearing a green polo shirt and patterned skirt sitting on a bench with a stone wall in the background.

Justine Ouedraogo: Maman Yam Yankré

Justine earned the nickname, “Maman Yam Yankré,” as she became known for playing and discussing the show in her cabaret. She told PMC that our daily routine includes going to work and turning on the show so her neighbors and customers can listen in.

Justine was inspired to use her platform because she feels that,

“The themes covered in the show is so important that I want to share them with others,” said Justine. “The advice given addresses several topics. Whether it’s birth spacing, class attendance, the consequences of female circumcision, I see that my customers are interested in the show because it can help them change the way they conduct their family life.”

Justine created an atmosphere that encourages conversation and gives locals a place to hear and discuss the shows characters and plotlines. Her cabaret has become a place where behavior change is cultivated.

“Family planning can greatly help the couple to better manage the family. As for female genital mutilation, it creates so many harmful consequences for the girl that the practice must be abandoned. When I go to the village, I do not hesitate to bring up the issue of female circumcision during our discussions,” shared Justine.

It takes all of us to flip the script on taboo social issues around the world by becoming agents of change. Our writers, producers, actors, and funders start with implanting creative and entertaining storylines, but the real stars are our loyal listeners that are shifting beliefs and taking action in their own communities.


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