This film shows how BBC Media Action has helped women in two of the countries in which they work, Bangladesh and Ethiopia, to have safer pregnancies and healthier babies. They did this by inspiring pregnant women and those who influence them, like their husbands and mothers-in-law, to believe they can and should do things differently. The formative research they did prior to the start of the project showed that home delivery, a traditional practice, was the norm, and most husbands saw pregnancy as "a woman thing". So, it was important to focus on the influencers - making sure that husbands and mothers-in-law wanted to listen to the project's radio programmes in Ethiopia and watch the TV programmes in Bangladesh.
In addition to giving them accurate knowledge, BBC Media Action sought to engage them emotionally - showing them different ways of doing things and motivating them by showing recognisable people like them providing better advice and support for pregnant women. Twenty-one million people listened to the radio health programmes in Ethiopia, and thirty-two million people watched the TV health programmes in Bangladesh in 2016. In Ethiopia, research data showed that husbands who listened to the programme were three times more likely to know what preparations to make to ensure a safe delivery compared to husbands who didn't listen. They were more likely to say that people in their community arrange transport to take a woman to the health facility to give birth, and they were almost twice as likely to believe that people would approve if they fed their newborn baby only breast milk rather than traditional (but harmful) food like butter. Research data also showed in Bangladesh that husbands and mothers-in-law who watched the programmes were twice as likely to believe that husbands should support their wives to go for antenatal checkups compared to those who didn't watch. Husbands were three times more likely to provide accurate advice like the need for antenatal checkups and that a woman should go as soon as she is pregnant. Mothers-in-law were twice as likely to know how to clean and prepare a room in which a woman will give birth and to know that the birth should be assisted by a qualified health worker.
BBC Media Action say that it is clear that when those who can influence women gain accurate knowledge, shift their perceptions despite what is typical in their community, feel they can do things differently, and provide better advice and support - then healthier practices and behaviours become the new normal. "Our work on maternal and newborn health in Bangladesh and Ethiopia reached women and their influencers to make change happen."
Emails from Emebet Wuhib-Mutungi to The Communication Initiative on April 5 2017 and April 18 2017.