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Women and girl's rights in Sierra Leone: Let Us Know!

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Author: Olabisi Olu Garrick, February 23 2015 - Despite my fourteen years as a journalist, I didn’t always want to work in the media. I actually wanted to be a lawyer.

The ability to hold people to account and help people understand their legal rights always appealed to me. Little did I know that a chance meeting with a woman one sunny afternoon would change my life.

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Shining a light on girl's education in South Sudan

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Author: BBC Media Action South Sudan's Kenyi Betuel, editor of 'Our School', originally posted on January 15 2018 - Agol Deng Tong dreams of going to university and setting up her own business, but living in rural South Sudan - with no electricity - made studying in the evening difficult. But Agol was determined this wouldn’t stop her passing her exams. Radio programme ‘Our School’ shared her innovative solution to show how girls are tackling barriers to education across the country – and to inspire others to do the same. 

"Anything a man can do, you can do as a girl if you’re educated. Never think marriage is the only answer, I ensure that I am in school because I know that later I’ll be better off," says 21-year-old Agol Deng Tong.

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How can media help people in Bangladesh prepare for disasters?

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Author: BBC Media Action Bangladesh's Research Officer Aniqa Hossain, originally posted January 15 2018 - In Bangladesh, we’re pretty disaster-prone. Cyclones are a regular occurrence and much of our coastline is low-lying and often floods. This is a fact of life for many people, and they have little option but to find a way to survive. However, the lack of infrastructure can be too overwhelming and make it hard for people to know where to start.

As communicators, there is a lot we can do to help people become more resilient, so that they can take steps to prepare in advance and mobilise resources in the aftermath of a natural disaster. But we have found that communication is most effective when you don’t just tell people what to do but how to do it.

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New Tobacco Industry communication strategies to undermine public health: Part I - 50 shades of gray frame

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Author: Franklin Apfel [including interview transcript from Derek Yach] January 18 2018 – This blog, one of four, is part of series in which Apfel analyses and McKee comments on Yach’s interview responses on the tobacco industry and his involvement in the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World. The series is intended to identify new ways in which the industry is attempting to (re)frame conversations on tobacco and health and tobacco industry behaviours as demonstrated by their adherence to or circumvention of article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

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Changing the National Family Planning Policy in Niger: an urgent imperative?

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Author: Balkissa Harouna, January 11 2018 - NIGER: a landlocked country in West Africa, with about 17 million inhabitants, holding the world record of the strongest fertility rate: 8 children on average for a woman. This picture is the one most often used internationally to describe my native country, a country where family planning is faced also with enormous challenges.

First, above all, some myths about family planning are hiding critical realities, which are largely ignored.

Secondly, the population, in a large proportion is still reticent to use family planning services. Yet, the first public program of family planning was launched in November, 1984, so about thirty years ago. Unfortunately, the fertility rate always remains high: the objective of 25 % use of contraceptives in 2015, fixed by the national family planning policy has not been reached ( the current rate being estimated at approximately 12 %)!

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One Death, Three Stories About Sickness and Starvation in Jharkhand

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Author: Jessica Mayberry, November 16 2017 - At Video Volunteers [VV], we spend nearly all our time reporting on stories that don't make headlines; stories of broken systems and petty corruption occurring amongst the relatively ignored populations of this country [India]. On the rare occasion when 'hard' news breaks in one of 200+ districts we report from, we don't rush to cover it. If a story from a district where we work makes headlines on its own, it means the news ecosystem is functioning as it should. But a few weeks ago, we found ourselves in the middle of the biggest news story of the week.

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Communication is key to quashing suspicion around vaccination drives

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Author: Wilmot James, December 14 2017 - Cynthia Gorney wrote in National Geographic in November about the phenomenon of "vaccine hesitancy". She cites the example of Pakistan, where polio vaccinators were turned away or attacked on the basis of rumours that were, on the one hand, false (it was not true vaccines were a western plot against Islam) and, on the other, true (the Central Intelligence Agency had indeed used vaccinators to search for Osama bin Laden).

She cites a further example where, in parts of India, a measles-congenital rubella syndrome vaccination campaign, one of the world's largest targeting 35-million children, ran into trouble after anonymous posts on social media falsely claimed the vaccines were dangerous or targeted the children of religious minorities. Many people believed the erroneous posts, at the cost to their children's health and lives.

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The human brain and how it shapes development success: do we need to have a big new argument?

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Author: James Deane, December 13 2017 - Sometimes you read a book which - just short of literally - blows your mind.  The Enigma of Reason: a new theory of understanding by Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber did that to mine.  If their conclusions are right, the implications for human development – and the role of communication and media within it - are profound.

I’ve long puzzled why development d hasn’t focused more on the human mind.  We have development research institutes and think tanks on all forms of public policy - governance, science, economics and so on - but little on working out why humans think and act in the way that they do and how those things have affected how they have developed over millennia.  

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A novel approach to maternal health in Nigeria

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Author: Producer Trainer for BBC Media Action in Nigeria Akile Gojo, originally posted December 5 2017 - Earlier this year, after a day of training producers at one of our partner radio stations in Gombe state, I was eating dinner in a nearby restaurant. In the background, a radio was playing, and, as I sat there, I realised that all the women - and some men as well - were listening intently to a novel being read aloud on air.

I knew listening to romance novels on the radio - especially those written by local authors - has been growing in popularity with women and girls in Northern Nigeria. They often go to the market to buy copies of their favourites to read again at home with family.

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How can media and communication address violence against women and girls?

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Authors: BBC Media Action Gender advisors Kanwal Ahluwalia and Elanor Jackson, originally posted November 30 2017 - We are often asked what a gender transformative project looks like.

A gender transformative approach explicitly tackles social norms around gender discrimination, power and violence, as well as broader ideas about male superiority and what it is to be a "real man" or "real woman" in the eyes of society. It means addressing systemic change by looking beyond individuals and focusing on unequal power relations between women and men, girls and boys.

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