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Fiction for Women's Empowerment
(Middle East and North Africa)

Harnessing fiction as a platform for women’s empowerment.

Womanity believes that the media offers a unique way to overcome women’s isolation, to enter family homes and put women’s and societal issues on the table, stimulating debate and providing information and knowledge.

In particular, ‘edutainment’ strategies, especially in the form of fiction series, can enact stories that closely relate to real life, where characters experience the same concerns and pressures of the listeners, leading the audience through a learning process towards positive behavioural changes. With this in mind, Womanity and its programme partners produced an exclusive Arabic radio fiction, Worth 100 Men (Be 100 Ragl in Arabic). Read more.

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The project

The Challenge

While countries in the Arabic-speaking world differ in prosperity, population, and resources, they share strong similarities in cultural terms, and in governance and social structures. Many countries in the region find women in economically dependent positions within the family, with no or little decision-making power, and exposed to some form of violence.

Arab women’s participation in the labor market is only 26.7%, compared to a worldwide rate of 52.5%; women’s literacy rate is 59.4% compared to a worldwide rate of 72.7%; and overall unequal opportunities for girls and women result in a loss of resources and productivity for entire communities.

Issues that affect women, such as their role in society, their rights and responsibilities, and the problems they face in private and in public, are taboo and rarely discussed. Consequently, there are few public platforms for an open dialogue to address them and discuss ways for women to maintain their cultural identities while pursuing their aspirations and realizing their full potential.

Consequently, many Arab women are becoming more actively involved in the public, professional and political spheres, and are role models for their peers. However, these experiences are limited and women continue to remain too often bound by societal customs, with little space to challenge them directly.

The Approach

As demonstrated with Radio Nisaa FM in the Palestinian Territories in 2009, Womanity believes that the media offers a unique way to overcome women’s isolation, to enter family homes and put women’s and societal issues on the table, stimulating debate and providing information and knowledge.

In particular, ‘edutainment’ strategies, especially in the form of fiction series, can enact stories that closely relate to real life, where characters experience the same concerns and pressures of the listeners, leading the audience through a learning process towards positive behavioural changes.

With this in mind, Womanity and its programme partners produced an exclusive Arabic radio fiction, Worth 100 Men (Be 100 Ragl in Arabic). The series follows the story of Noha, an intrepid young radio journalist, who confronts gender discrimination in the workforce, in family, and the social sphere. Noha challenges prejudice and oppression, and becomes a role model for the whole community. The series covers divorce, domestic violence, sexual harassment, women’s access to education and professional careers, the status of single women in traditional society, and healthy romantic relationships.

The first edition was aired between March and October 2014 throughout the Arab world.

In 2015 Womanity and its project partner Lapis Communication undertook to produce the second edition of Be 100 Ragl designed as an animation series in ten episodes. The second season is an animated video story destined for online broadcasting and was released online from June to December 2016. In season II, Noha is played by leading Jordanian actress Saba Mubarak , and the show theme tune ‘’B100 ragel’’ is performed by the Saudi based Iranian singer Alaa Wardi.

Womanity is currently producing the third edition of the series that is expected ot be released in summer 2017.

The Impact

  • Be 100 Ragl I

– Radio Nisaa in the Palestinian Territories, Radio Yemen Times in Yemen, and Radio Aswat in Morocco broadcast talk shows discussing the main topics of Worth 100 Men.

– To date, the fiction series has been heard by millions of listeners across nine Arab countries, and engaged over 140,000 social media users, who continued the dialogue long after the show was off-air.

– Womanity, in partnership with SMPL Media, organized ten public events and debates in Egypt and Jordan, attended by over 480 participants.

– Local women’s organizations have held community-based group discussions with the support and training of the program partner Oxfam Novib . Group discussions have significantly contributed to shift participants’ opinion towards more favourable positions in support of gender equality.

– Worth 100 Men was showcased at a side event of the Convention on the Status of Women, organized by Oxfam Novib, and in two BBC programs.

  • Be 100 Ragl II

The series was released online across the Arab region in Ramadan 2016 and was viewed 1.9 million times. As for the first edition, the broadcasting of the second season of the fiction series  run in parallel with a combination of online spaces on social media and offline conversations, the Be 100 Ragl Tour, as following :

– Open online spaces on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to further gather audience and expert comments, animate the debate, and offer possibilities for connections across the community and throughout the program duration;

– 18 Real-life round-tables, meet-ups and debates involving public screenings organized in appropriate spaces in cooperation with civil society and women’s groups, schools, universities, NGO’s, young changemakers and innovators. Events saw the attendance of 600 participants in 2016.

Read our final report of Be 100 Ragl I

Be 100 Ragl Valued Partners

Design and production: Global Production (1st edition), Lapis Communications (2nd Edition)

BroadcastingRadio Nisaa (Palestinian Territories), Radio Yemen Times (Yemen), Radio SouriaLi (Syria), Panorama FM (Saudi Arabia and Bahrain),Radio Aswat (Morocco), Radio Almahaba (Iraq), MEGA FM (Cairo, Egypt), Alexhits (Egypt, online), Sound of Sakia (Egypt); Radio Farat Al Nas(Jordan)

Listening groups and public events: Oxfam Novib, Soul City and their field based partners and El Sawy – Culture Wheels (in Cairo), SMPL Media

Social Media: SMPL Media, Lapis Communications (2nd Edition)

Monitoring and evaluation, community mobilization: Oxfam Novib, Soul City and their field based partners(1st edition); Oxfam GB (2nd Edition)

Funding partner:  Private donor and Womanity Foundation

Media Links

BBC World Impact (17 July 2014); A Woman’s Hour – BBC Radio 4 (23 July 2014); BBC Arabic ;YOUM7 (21 September 2014); Worth 100 Men ( Be 100 Ragl) I – The Communication Initiative (12 MARCH 2014); Can a radio series change attitudes and norms on violence against women? Oxfam (18 May 2016); Antonella Notari Vischer, the director of Womanity, was interviewed by Radio SouriaLi when Be 100 Ragl I was launched

To fund this work visit our Donate page or contact Ryna Sherazi at ryna@womanity.org.