The successful radio drama, "The Heart of a Woman", concluded broadcasts in Chiapas, Mexico in December 2011. Yet, the program lives on. The drama, which features the stories and voices of Chiapan women, has met with much success and has quickly spread across Latin America. More than 50 stations picked-up the drama in Mexico alone, and we have received confirmation that stations in Peru, Panama, Costa Rica, Argentina and Bolivia are now playing the drama as well.
The popularity and success of the program has led the State Government to produce a new television drama, "Mucho Corazon," which addresses similar issues of gender equality, sustainable development, and education through a captivating story. The drama began broadcasts in January of this year on Canal 10, the State-run television station.
The popularity of both shows is heartening not only because of what is says about the ability of state-run radio and television stations to “play with the big boys”, but also because Entertainment-Education on behalf of women works. An example of this is the Indian radio drama Taru, produced by Media Impact in 2002. According to a 2010 evaluation, Taru reached an audience of between 20 and 25 million in its four target states (Bihar, Jharkhand, Mahdya Pradesh and Chattisgarh), but its popularity led to re-broadcasts throughout North India, and an estimated total audience of 60-75 million. Survey research discovered significantly stronger beliefs about gender equity and family planning after the series aired: The use of modern family planning methods increased and the research also found a 10 percent shift towards using family planning methods after having two children, compared to after three or four children prior to the broadcasts.
Similar impact is expected from both Corazón de Mujer and Mucho Corazón. Initial survey data shows more than 80 percent of radio drama listeners report having learned about a woman’s right to not be abused from the show. It’s a good start, yet there’s much that remains to be done.
That’s why we, at Media Impact, are honored to help with the production of Mucho Corazón. The world could stand to see more strong TV heroines who use their own resources to save themselves. It is our experience, after all, that what we see on TV quickly becomes reality.
The state of Chiapas, Mexico is a land of contradiction and flux. Its peoples are among the country’s poorest, though it is rich in natural resources such as rivers, forests, minerals, and petroleum. Moreover, much arable land is exhausted from decades of growing only corn, and the specter of biopiracy fuels opposition to efforts at creating revenues from native flora and fauna. And even as tradition hampers progress, the state government is the first in the world to base its constitution on the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals.
Governor Juan Sabines and his wife Mrs. Isabel Sabines have called on PCI-Media Impact to develop Entertainment-Education (E-E) serial dramas that convey the nature and promise of new state programs aimed at achieving these goals. They want to encourage people to: take advantage of new laws enabling women to own property and fortifying their right to live free of domestic abuse; adopt farming practices that are profitable, environmentally sound, and sustainable; respect Indigenous Peoples and integrate them into the society and agricultural economy; educate children—particularly girls—more extensively; and settle in locations that will have access to electricity, potable water and plumbing, hospitals, and adequate schools. This agenda was developed with the assistance of some 20 cooperating government ministries.
International development work has consistently shown that empowering women is among the surest ways to improve communities. Media Impact’s two E-E dramas in Mexico focus on women, their new rights to land ownership and human dignity, and the government’s program of “conversion”—shifting from subsistence farming to sustainable and profitable cultivation of the land. Past farming practice in the region has entailed men growing only corn for subsistence, as their ancestors did. This has exhausted the land and not generated income The dramas feature strong-willed women who avail themselves of the new laws and who embrace modern farming methods, such as rotating and diversifying crops, planting nontraditional crops like organic coffee, peaches, and palm plants for biofuel. In E-E’s history, positive characters like these women serve as role models; and we foresee that they will encourage participation in the new programs, and the integration of the new laws into the social fabric
Our radio drama on these themes, “Corazon de Mujer” (“Heart of a Woman”), has aired since March 2011. An instant hit, it sped into rebroadcast on 51 radio stations in Chile, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Peru. It has also spurred production of a television show on the same themes. Scriptwriting on “Mucho Corazon” (“A Lot of Heart”) has begun, with initial resources from the government’s broadcasting system. But television is a more expansive medium than radio, and Media Impact is seeking funds to bring 30 episodes and community activities to fruition, to convey the government’s position that empowerment of women can play a major role in sustainable agriculture by improving food security and the economy in Chiapas.
“When my mother was engaged in the 1970s more or less, women couldn’t get ahead even if they wanted to – they couldn’t study and forget about them understanding their rights. Imagine how much heart these women must have had to handle so much oppression,” said Luz Angelica to her curious assistant Namir.
Luz Angélica is the heroin of a new radio drama, Corazon de Mujer, dedicated to promoting women’s empowerment and gender equality in Chiapas, Mexico.
Launched on March 8th, International Women’s Day, Corazon de Mujer narrates the story of three generations of women as they seek to change the reality of their circumstances. The storyline touches on the fibers of the audiences’ daily life and brings listeners close to the daily struggles of Chiapas women. Complementary talk shows will provide audience members with critical information and the encouragement to face challenges and move forward.
Throughout the course of the broadcast, the radio drama has positively impacted men and women. Every week listeners call-in to the radio talk show to share personal stories, voice opinions about how the drama relates to society’s issues, and provide advice to others.
Many women call seeking support on how to deal with a situation similar to one that happened to the show’s main character, Rosita. For example, one woman called to ask:
Thank you for the program – it is very nice. I am very grateful to the radio drama for touching upon Anita’s rape. My daughter recently confided in me that she was raped six years ago by her half-brother. Is there anything I can do to get justice? My daughter asked me if there is anything I can do to help her seek retribution. What can I do? My daughter has suffered many traumas.
Others call to discuss the rape of Rosita by her husband Pablo on their wedding night. Women connected with Rosita’s experience and called-in to share:
I believe that the radio drama is touching upon the realities that so many of us live. I want to say that what Pablo did while drunk the night of the wedding to Rosita was wrong. I want men to listen: the first night of marriage is a trauma that stays with us forever, throughout life. It is horrible what happens. Men should respect if, on the first night, we are tired. They should wait until the relationship becomes nice because to feel, on the first night, a drunken man next to you is horrible. After thirty years of marriage we keep this trauma. We carry this rape from our first night of marriage.
Women are finding support in learning about Rosita’s experience and hearing the testimonies of fellow listeners. Many use the call-in show as an opportunity to talk at liberty about issues they cannot always discuss openly in public. One caller described the terrifying experience of having to prove one’s virginity on the first night of the honeymoon, a common experience for many young women in the broadcast area:
When my sister got married, on the first night of her honeymoon she was forced to submit to her husband and put a white sheet on the bed to see if she was a virgin. If she was a virgin, she had to stain the sheet with blood. If she was not a virgin, she would have been ostracized by her husband and his family. These fears and harassments left psychological scars. Women who do not bleed are subjected to harsh physical and emotion abuse. This way of thinking is ignorant and devalues women. They do not understand the value of women; that women are the motor of the family. I believe most women share the fear of this event.
But the space is also used to give hope and encouragement to listeners. Several older women have called in to encourage young women to continue studying in order to provide for themselves and not become so reliant on marriage. These women share their years of insight and words of wisdom to encourage younger women to choose alternative paths.
What do you think? What would you say to these women?
- Listener, The Heart of a Woman
“The Heart of a Woman”, a drama creating favorable change in Chiapaneco society in regards to gender equity and the empowerment of women, launched March 8, 2011. Every week, a 20 minute radio drama broadcasts as part of local talk shows that engage listeners in critical discussions about the issues. When the season ends on December 6, 2011, the drama will consist of 40 episodes.
“The Heart of a Women” is a part of a greater communications strategy to empower women in Mexico. The drama promotes the rights of women, encourages gender equity and respect, and serves as a forum to diffuse information about laws and states services that pertain to the welfare of women. In addition to the drama, theater performances, interviews, newsletters, festivals, concerts, press release, text messages, and collateral will promote the drama and its themes.
The drama has gained a lot of local, regional and even national attention. So loved, there was enough demand for a day long radio marathon that broadcast 10 episodes. Radio stations are being slammed by phone calls from audience members eager to ask questions, give their opinions, and learn more about the drama’s issues. One partner reported a 50% increase in calls after the broadcast of “Heart of a Woman.” One station received 358 calls and 145 text messages just after one broadcast.
In addition to the radio drama there is radio call-in show, “Siempre Mujeres,” with journalists Susana Solís and Candelaria Rodríguez. The call-in show provides listeners with an opportunity to amplify their participation with the drama by speaking with specialists, expressing their feelings, asking questions, hearing stories from other listeners, and learning about new services. The show’s producers and partners’ also created Línea Corazón as an emergency call-in service to provide extra legal and psychological help to listeners.
The show was so highly anticipated for success that in March National Institute of Indigenous Languages signed a convention to collaborate with Sistema DIF-Chiapas, y El Sistema Chiaponeco de Radio, Televisión, y Cinematografía to translate the radio drama into Tsotsil and Tzeltal languages.
The drama is being aired over 51 channels by 21 radio stations, including the Mexican Institute for the Radio and the Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples. The program is broadcast in Chiapas, Nuevo León, Coahuila, Zacatecas, Tlaxcala, Querétaro, Estado de México, Colima, Jalisco y ésta semana inician la transmisión Torreón y Aguascalientes. People can also listen in Perú and Panamá.
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