As part of our International Women’s Day blog series, we have interviewed some of the brilliant people that make our work at Womanity possible. In this blog, we hear from Rana Askoul, Head of Disruptive Media, on what makes B100Ragl special, and what “Balance for Better” means to her.

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Tell me a bit about your role at Womanity?
I joined Womanity in the second half of 2018 looking after the foundation’s portfolio of Media Programmes in the Middle East and North Africa region. Recently, I was asked to help our programme teams across all regions to deliver on their mission and objectives, and as such we work hand in hand on mapping out programme strategies and executing on programme implementation plans.

What is it that you enjoy most about this work?
From challenging perceptions and stereotypes through media focused programmes all the way to supporting social entrepreneurs working on building more inclusive and safe communities, the work we do at the foundation is diverse, engaging and impactful.

What I particularly appreciate about the work we do is our commitment to collaboration and how we are constantly striving to work together with local partners in order to execute on our commitments. In our world today, there is very little room for change to happen without collaboration.

B100Ragl has had some great results in shifting attitudes and challenging gender stereotypes. Why do you think media is such a powerful tool for change? Why has B100Ragl had this success?
Media has many ways in which it is able to shift beliefs and attitudes and hence behaviours. From these many ways, the most relevant to the work we do is media’s ability to shape the way we think of the “other”, what is otherwise known as “norm-referencing”. We know for example that an average of 54% of social media users across 8 MENA countries report becoming “more open to tolerating different points of view” as a result of social media use.

For B100Ragl specifically, we have managed to tap into various strategies to ensure a wider reach and impact of the program including for example: 1) working with regional influencers, regional celebrities and local artists in producing parts of –  and promoting – the program and 2) partnering and collaborating with local youth and women organisations to ensure we have a grassroots approach to execution.

Are there any key learnings that have come from B100Ragl?
A key learning for us on the programme is most notably the constantly changing dynamics of audiences. As a portion of our audience grow in age and we acquire younger audiences, the shifting preferences and perceptions require us to constantly innovate and explore new ways of presenting our message and engaging the different groups.

Another key learning for us is about being inclusive. We strive to constantly reflect on how we can build a programme that can be inclusive of both men and women given that our core mission is rooted in shifting perceptions and stereotypes that collectively hold us back from living in truly inclusive societies.

What are your plans for the future? Are there any exciting activities on the horizon for B100Ragl?
We have a lot in store for the evolution of programme. We are currently looking at different forms of edutainment that we can use to deliver our messages on gender stereotypes and perceptions. We are also moving towards using real stories of women from the region to present not only challenges faced by men and women in the region, but to also showcase triumphant moments where individuals have managed to overcome stereotypes.

We are also looking at ways where we can increase our engagement with our target audience and truly arrive at a space where interaction, learning and sharing of experiences happens amongst our audience through the various platforms of the program.  

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is “Balance for Better”. What does “Balance for Better” mean to you?
I truly believe that if we collectively strive for greater economic and social parity globally we would be able to eradicate some of our most pressing challenges. This applies to issues ranging from climate change and poverty all the way to gender equality. In a sense, “Balance for Better” to me personally stands to represent greater parity for greater good. But it doesn’t stop there. It also represents us coming together collectively to deliver on this mission. In our different roles, and through our innate differences, we bring so much to the table.