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Kyunki to entertain-educate 40 million women thrice a week

© UNICEF/2008
The title frame for the television programme Kyunki…Jeena Issi ka Naam hai

Anupam Srivastava

NEW DELHI: An entertainment-education programme Kyunki Jeena Issi Ka Naam Hai is being launched on India’s national channel Doordarshan.

Produced by UNICEF and supported by the Government’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,  Kyunki… is the quintessential entertainment soap – in the tradition of daily soaps that are extremely popular in India and largely govern television channel ratings.

It aims to reach out to a core audience of 40 million mostly rural, poor women daily in six Hindi-speaking states with key information, advice and stories that will help save lives and improve the well-being of children and women.

Kyunki…hits the airwaves from April 7 in prime time, 8.30 p.m., on Doordarshan’s national channel and will run three days in a week.

The television is as dramatic as an Indian soap opera gets, if not more. There are conspiracies and intrigues, strained and loving relationships from the very first episode.

“The first few episodes lay a gripping plot with drama and suspense and prepare the audience for the educational messages that will come later. Even when the character are established and messages do appear, they will be subtle, embedded messages conveyed through a situation, a twist in the storyline, a biting remark rather than a long speech,” says Michael Galway, Chief, Programme Communication, UNICEF India.

Kyunki... will address many of the underlying behavioural issues that are important to India's social development, especially progress in improving child survival, maternal mortality, nutrition, child protection, emergency response, HIV prevention, girls' education, access to safe drinking water and improved personal hygiene.

The show will also tackle complex social issues at the root of behavioural changes, or their absence - such as gender discrimination, poverty and power structures.

That's the 'education' side. But to be successful, the show has to be 'entertaining' - and global experience has shown that this 'e-e' combination can have a direct impact on the decisions people make in their everyday lives.

A mega launch involving the national government and the national media has been planned for April 9. The event will be attended by Director-General of Doordarshan B.S. Lalli, Health Secretary Naresh Dayal, film personality Farooque Shaikh and a number of known names in the film and media circles.
 

© UNICEF/2008
A still from Kyunki… Jeena Issi ka Naam hai. The programme will use the entertainment-education (e-e) format and will use subtle messaging to change behaviours around health

Kyunki… is the result of many years of thinking and effort. The experience of UNICEF’s community mobilisers in the polio-endemic districts of western Uttar Pradesh showed the possibility of reaching out to communities with information on a wide range of health issues.

“People were eager to know what they could do to look after themselves and their children, and they looked up to us,” says Safiya Ahmed (read interview with Safiya Ahmed), the District Underserved Co-ordinator for the polio programme in Aligarh.

UNICEF has already started the Facts for Life communication initiative to equip health community workers with the knowledge to make a difference to the health status of children, women and families.

The television programme – part of the same initiative – will further this initiative.

The ready acceptability of entertainment-education in India and the global experience have guided the production of Kyunki. “It makes an immediate impact on the people,” says Safiya.

 

 

 

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