Tucked in the mountains of Nepal, families and individuals have started to tune in to a new radio show, Rope Guna Fal (“You Reap What You Sow”). The show, supported by UNICEF and The Kendeda Fund, hit the airwaves in late September and casts light on several key issues including reproductive health, child marriage, and education about parenting.
According to research by Girls Not Brides, approximately 40% of Nepalese girls are married before they turn 18. Nepal has committed to eliminating child marriage by 2030 as part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, but success depends on deeply rooted social norms and behaviors changing – and this takes intentional, strategic, and large-scale interventions.
We at Population Media Center (PMC) are acting to change the reality for young women and girls in Nepal alongside our partners at the Antenna Foundation Nepal (AFN). Together, our teams have produced three long-running radio shows in the last five years addressing child marriage, each empowering listeners to make choices for safer, healthier populations.
Our Audience Knows Best
Production of the current show, Rope Guna Fal, started in May 2021 while writers and actors alike gathered to bring relatable characters and familiar communities to life. Combining behavior theory, formative research, and media insight, the PMC-Nepal team plotted episodes and storylines containing transitional, positive, and negative characters. These characters drive the drama in each highly-anticipated episode and act as role models for audiences.
We believe audience feedback is the greatest tool in producing high-quality and transformative entertainment. The insight we glean directly from our audiences is an important part of what makes our shows successful. In Nepal, our team hosted pre-test listening groups. These focus groups previewed the upcoming shows and were introduced to our slate of fictional characters prior to the broadcast. Their feedback, both good and bad, is received by writers and producers to make final changes before airing the show. Pre-test focus groups are just one part of our evaluation to make sure our stories create planet-positive impact for individuals and communities. As the broadcast continues in Nepal, we’ll follow up with listeners with text messaging, social media conversations, phone surveys, and listener groups.
Living Success Stories
Humans have always told stories as a way to understand, share, and shift beliefs and actions – and Sangita Kumari Sadi used storytelling to do exactly that in her own life. Sangita listened to a prior PMC-Nepal production, Hilkor (“Ripples in the Water”). She was in awe of the characters who were able to access education to improve their lives. She also recognized some characters lacked the rights to choose their future, including many young girls being able to choose when and whom to marry. After several attempts to communicate the lessons she learned from Hilkor, her parents eventually agreed that she did not need to marry while in her teen years.
Sangita’s story is just one example of Hilkor’s impact. Hilkor aired across 60 stations in Nepal and our listeners were more likely to have taken action to discourage child marriage, creating whole communities prioritizing education for young girls.
Every Action Counts
Cent for cent, measure by measure, our hit shows generate community-empowering behavior change and uplifts listeners around the world. In Nepal, we hope to flip the script on child marriage and inspire young women and girls to write their own life stories. Acting together with UNICEF, The Kendeda Fund, Antenna Foundation Nepal, and other like-minded organizations, we’ll put an end to child marriage, improving individual, social, and economic inequities around the world.
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