Of the many programmatic responses to the vast unmet need for family planning in Pakistan, the 14-episode Urdu drama serial, Angoori, is certainly the most entertaining.
Produced by CCP under the auspices of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation-funded project, “Improving Women’s Lives and Reproductive Health through Strategic Advocacy in Pakistan”, Angoori aired across Pakistan on ATV and TV-One from May to August 2010.
Angoori sought to improve knowledge and communication about family planning, and encouraged families to educate daughters and appreciate all children equally, regardless of gender. Highly popular, especially among married and unmarried women, the television drama reached almost 19% of viewers, a huge achievement in the saturated mass media environment in Pakistan. Many viewers felt that Angoori successfully highlighted the importance of women’s rights, raised awareness about family planning and positively shifted attitudes in the community, especially towards education and empowerment of women.
But if Angoori met its goals, it was not because it offered novel information. Indeed, the many messages conveyed by Angoori are simultaneously being communicated by multiple public health programs across Pakistan.
What sets Angoori apart is its medium.
Most viewers felt that drama serial presented stories that reflected real life situations to which they could easily relate. They believe that television dramas like Angoori play a very important role in motivating the community to change their behavior, especially towards women’s rights. One viewer explained, “Such dramas should be made so that all people in the house should learn the importance of women education and hence the future of girls can be secured.”
Another concurred, “Such dramas help develop thinking of the people, once people start thinking, gradually change is seen in their attitudes.”
The lesson from Angoori is that when seeking to address family planning needs, or communicate any change to behavior norms, television is a tool that must not be underestimated.