Celebrate Solutions: A Nepali Radio Show for ‘Mutual Understanding’

By Rati Bishnoi, Women Deliver

Every week, the Samajhdari or “Mutual Understanding” radio show creates a space for Nepali women to “speak out for themselves” and share their often “unspoken, internal dilemmas with one another,” says Programme Director Jaya Luintel.

The 30-minute program—which is produced by Equal Access in Nepal—seeks to spur productive dialogues about sex, help women feel comfortable speaking about their needs and rights, expose the causes, consequences, and interconnectedness of HIV, AIDS, and violence against women, and organize collective action.

According to Equal Access’s research, many Nepali women experiencing domestic violence are at risk of contracting HIV and women with HIV or AIDS are at risk of violence. With an audience of more than 1 million listeners, Samajhdari relies on 12 “community reporters”—themselves living with HIV and AIDS or survivors of violence—to capture the stories of women living in rural areas.

These and other listeners’ stories become the heart of each show broadcast and show how violence and HIV/AIDS touch the lives of Nepali women. Most importantly, these stories provide specific examples that Nepali women, other members of the community, and experts can use to talk about what women can do to protect themselves and their rights.

Examples of these stories include, “I am a sex worker and if I say no to my clients’ demands, they beat me. What can I do? and “My husband forces me to have sex when I don’t want to. How can I say no?”

In addition to providing women a platform to share experiences, learn they are not alone, and find answers to their problems, Samajhdari also works with the community to provide legal literacy training for more than 1,800 women and leads 60 listening groups across the country.

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