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Past Successes and Looking to the Future in DR Congo

Jun 28, 2017

Population Media Center (PMC), a nonprofit leader in entertainment designed to attract huge audiences and simultaneously improve the rights and well-being of people around the world, often meets with inspirational world leaders. On Friday, June 23, 2017, PMC leadership met with the Minister of Media and Communication in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), His Excellency Lambert Mende Omalanga. Not only did it affirm the work PMC is doing in the DRC, it also introduced another important element for PMC radio dramas in DRC: getting women to vote.

“His Excellency the Minister Omalanga realized that the model PMC uses for its entertaining dramas – the successful ability to address deeply personal values and social norms in order to motivate positive behavior change – could be used to encourage women to register to vote,” says Gabin Kifukiau Mabanzila, PMC’s Resident Representative in the DRC who oversees PMC’s DRC team.

His Excellence Minister Omalanga has long been supportive of PMC’s work in the DRC, which focuses on issues like gender equality, reproductive health, girl’s education, conservation, child labor, and many more. This meeting with Mabanzila, PMC’s President Bill Ryerson, and PMC’s Vice President of International Programs Kriss Barker, allowed discussion about the impact of two dramas that have completed broadcast, one currently in broadcast, and the potential for future dramas.

“This meeting was a wonderful opportunity to think and learn more about our efforts in the DRC and how we can continue to be the most helpful,” says Barker. “As partners learn more and more about the power of PMC’s entertainment strategy, the more they understand where we can create real, meaningful, and lasting change within communities.”

PMC’s two completed radio dramas in DRC include Vivra Verra (“Time Will Tell”), a 156-episode radio drama that aired from September 2014 to March 2016 in French, and Elembo (“Footprint”), a 156-episode radio drama that aired from February 2015 to August 2016. Vivra Verra listeners were 3.5 times more likely than non-listeners to say that a couple does has the right to determine how many children they have. Elembo listeners were 2.4 times more likely than non-listeners to know that deforestation causes environmental degradation.

Pambazuko (“The Dawn”), a 156-episode radio serial drama that launched in March 2016, will be on the air until August of this year. It’s broadcast in Swahili in Eastern DRC, an area particularly challenged by war, displaced people, and violence – and an area where gender roles and struggling for survival diminish the likelihood that women will have the social capital, support, or motivation to register and vote.

“Women must register to vote if they want parity to become a reality in DRC,” Mabanzila says of the conversation with Minister Omalanga. “The law recognizes the parity between the man and the woman but it is rarely put into practice.

His Excellence Minister Omalanga added “Even though Sundays are specifically designated for women to register to vote, if there are men at the registration site, women are reticent to approach. We think your dramas can change this, and empower women to participate in the electoral process.”


Population Media Center is a nonprofit leader in entertainment-education, dedicated to women’s rights and empowerment, population stabilization, and the environment. For the past two decades, PMC’s entertainment programming has promoted social and cultural change and has helped 500 million people in more than 50 countries.