Below is some of the evidence on the use of communication strategies to tackle violence against women from Puntos de Encuentro, a Nicaraguan feminist organisation that works with young and adult women in developing their capacities to exercise their rights and autonomy in daily life. This evidence shows the impact of an entertainment-education strategy for changing attitudes and knowledge regarding violence against women through its initiative "Somos Diferentes, Somos Iguales" (SDSI) and, more specifically, through the TV show Sexto Sentido.
SDSI (We're Different, We're Equal) features: a weekly national edutainment telenovela (Sexto Sentido), with a particular focus on HIV risk; a daily call-in radio show; and community-based activities (coordination across organisational networks, cast visits to schools, youth training camps, and information, education, and communication (IEC) materials).
Three quantitative surveys were carried out in 3 cities - Estelí, Juigalpa, and Leó - during the period the SDSI strategy was implemented: 2002-2005. In summary, some of the main results regarding the impact on violence against women are set out below.
Those interviewed in the qualitative studies recognised SDSI's contribution on the issues of machismo and violence, which were addressed in the television series, radio programme, and other activities. For young people who are linked with and representatives of organisations, SDSI's main contributions were airing the issue and providing tools and opportunities for local-level work on these subjects.
Young men are less likely than young women to watch the programme. This means that young male viewers may develop an attitude more in line with that of young women, but these young men will remain in the (male) minority.
One of the messages of the TV show Sexto Sentido - particularly through the storyline on domestic violence - was designed to change attitudes toward violence - in particular, the notion that "domestic" violence is a private matter - and to raise awareness of Law 230, which defines domestic violence as a crime capable of sentencing and jail time. According to surveys, frequent viewers were more likely to have heard of Law 230: 43% of frequent viewers versus 34% of non-viewers (p=.006).
Participants with greater exposure to SDSI demonstrated 33% greater probability of knowing a centre that provides attention for cases of domestic violence. Twenty-three percent of those respondents who know a centre that provides attention for cases of violence attribute this knowledge to SDSI exposure.
There was a 48% greater probability of respondents having been to a centre that attends to cases of domestic violence in the last 6 months. Twenty-nine percent of those respondents who in the last 6 months have been to a centre that attends to cases of domestic violence attributed visits to SDSI exposure.
The extent to which Sexto Sentido can be said to have influenced views on violence to a large extent depends on the gender of the respondent. Young men, in general, were more likely than young women to view violence as a private matter. However, Sexto Sentido does appear to have influenced how young men view violence in that this viewing is associated with the perception that violence is a public rather than a private matter.
Greater gender equity
Participants with greater exposure to SDSI had higher scores (i.e., more gender-equitable attitudes) throughout the intervention period than participants with less exposure to SDSI. The following are considered "attributable" to greater exposure to SDSI:
- The attitude of 17% of those respondents who do not believe that women are the ones who are responsible for avoiding pregnancy (12,128 young people in the 3 cities).
- The attitude of 11% of those respondents who do not believe that women should be solely responsible for housekeeping and caring for the children (7,326 young people in the 3 cities).
Changes observed in attitudes related to gender-based violence involve greater exposure, implying a greater probability (14%, p = 0.000) of not justifying physical violence (a man hitting his wife) under any circumstances. This probability was found to be greater among women than men and among people with higher schooling levels.
Increased sense of equality in relationships
Participants with greater exposure to SDSI demonstrated higher values in the power and control index (i.e., the person's sense of equal power in their couple relationships) than respondents with less exposure, despite an overall reduction in the population (p = 0.025).
Greater perception of collective efficacy related to situations of domestic violence
Participants with greater exposure to SDSI demonstrated 11% greater probability of perceiving capacities among their group of friends to jointly do something to solve problems of domestic violence - this despite the fact that there was an overall worsening in the perception of collective efficacy.
Survey results showed that two-thirds of Sexto Sentido viewers discuss the episodes they watch with someone else. The sexual and reproductive health and gender-based violence topics were the topics on which viewers most frequently reflected.
Participants with greater exposure to SDSI demonstrated 62% greater probability of having talked with someone in the last 6 months about domestic violence, HIV, homosexuality, or the rights of young people. (Specifically on domestic violence: 53%). Twenty-one percent of those respondents who had talked to someone about one of these topics in the last 6 months attribute those conversations to SDSI exposure.
Email from Irene Lindenhovius to The Communication Initiative on May 13 2013. Documents consulted:
- "The Changing Nature of Change: A Nicaraguan Feminist Experience", Sarah Bradshaw, Irela Solorzano, Amy Bank (2006).
- "Impact of We're Different, We're Equal 2002-2005", Puntos de Encuentro (2007).
- "Catalyzing Individual and Social Change around Gender, Sexuality, and HIV: Impact Evaluation of Puntos de Encuentro's Communication Strategy in Nicaragua," Horizons Final Report. Washington, DC: Population Council, 2008.