Fiction that empowers women

It’s not the first thing you might think of when it comes to empowering women and tackling violence against women. But ‘edutainment’ – fiction which tackles social issues – is surprisingly powerful in changing deep-rooted mindsets and gender norms.

Which is why we are proud to launch the second series of Be 100 Ragl (Worth 100 Men) an Arabic fiction series addressing the role of women’s rights and the role of women in Arab society, produced by the Womanity Foundation in partnership with Lapis. “Research has found that children who viewed violent images on television demonstrated more aggressive behaviour than those who viewed neutral content”, says Womanity Program Manager Valentina Di Felice. “In other words, what someone sees on television influences the way they see the world.”

This direct correlation between entertainment and social behaviour was a key reason Womanity invested in the fiction project.

The first series of Be 100 Ragl, a radio drama which aired in 2014 on ten radio stations in nine Arab countries, was a huge success. Covering topics including women’s social and economic empowerment, domestic violence and sexual harassment, education and stereotypes surrounding single women, it reached over one million people and had a measurable impact on attitudes towards women.

Audience members were interviewed before and after listening to the series and there was an increase of 29% (going from 63% to 92%) in people who believed divorce should be an equal right for men and women. In the study, conducted by Oxfam Novib and its local partner WCLAC in the Palestinian Territories, listeners were also less likely to believe violence against women was justified “when it was done to preserve family unity” – this dropped from 46% of listeners thinking it was justified, to 16% after listening to the series. Meanwhile just 8% of listeners believed that “women who do not want to get married and bear children are not considered good women” – compared to 36% who held that view before listening to the show.

“This program offers unique ways to overcome women’s isolation, enter family homes and put women’s and societal issues on the table”, adds Valentina. “The episodes can stimulate debates and create connections as well as offer new ideas. This is particularly true in Arab countries where women have less access than men to the public arena.”

The second season of Be 100 Ragl, which launches on July 3, will once again focus on a character called Noha – played by acclaimed Jordanian actress Saba Mubarak – a young Arab radio journalist who decides to politically and socially challenge the establishment with her investigative reports. Episodes will touch on issues related to her private, family and professional life to highlight the main problems faced by women in the Arab world.

It will take a different format by incorporating animated videos and also have a strong social media strategy to reach a younger audience. The objective is to involve the audience and to provide grassroots organisations with an innovative tool to lead discussion on the role of women in society.

“The combination of online media and community-based debates aims to inform, educate, alert and mobilise audiences in MENA countries that are not used to participating in gender-focused events”, says Womanity Program Manager Asmaa Guedira. “We want to engage the audience through online broadcasting and involve web ambassadors, social media activists, bloggers and artists.”

This season will also see a tour of round-tables, meet-ups and debates involving public screenings organized with civil society and women’s groups, schools, universities, NGO’s, young changemakers and innovators.

Asmaa adds, “As with the first series Womanity is using the Be 100 Ragl story to spark conversations on women’s social roles and rights among audiences and to make an impact in changing mentalities.”

 

To get involved, follow Be 100 Ragl on Facebook [ https://www.facebook.com/B100Ragl/ ], Twitter [ https://twitter.com/B100Ragl ] or on the official website [ http://b100ragl.com/ ]

To support us in broadcasting the series, or promoting our events, email us at contact@b100ragl.com

To donate towards this program go to www.womanity.org/donate or email Ryna Sherazi at ryna@womanity.org