Samajhdari (meaning "Mutual Understanding") is a 30-minute weekly radio programme produced by Equal Access in Nepal that aims to cover the correlation between violence against women (VAW) and HIV/AIDS from the listener's point of view, providing discussion and advice on situations that affect real people - in particular, women. The radio programme is designed to: instigate productive dialogues about sex; teach women how to speak unhesitatingly and to think critically about their rights and choices; to expose the causes, consequences, and interconnectedness of HIV, AIDS, and VAW; and to organise collective actions to minimise them. Equal Access estimates that Samajhdari has 1 million regular listeners.

Communication Strategies: 

Every programme begins with a real dilemma that a listener has faced. These dilemmas have much to do with both violence against women and HIV/AIDS - such as, "I am a sex worker and if I say no to my clients' demands, they beat me. What can I do?" or "My husband forces me to have sex when I don't want to. How can I say no?" The presenter then brings in a range of voices to comment on the issue, including other listeners and experts from the field. To listen to episodes online, click here.

Twelve Equal Access trained women community reporters go into rural areas and collect voices from the field excerpts which are integrated into the broadcasts. These women community reporters are all living with HIV and AIDS and/or are survivors of violence, and this gives them an insight into the dilemmas being discussed.

The Nepalese radio show is combined with a community outreach component, which includes 60 listening groups, and legal literacy training for more than 1,800 women at the community level.

Development Issues: 

HIV/AIDS, Violence Against Women.

Key Points: 

Research by Equal Access indicates that Women Living with HIV or AIDS and survivors of VAW are overlapping populations, meaning that women experiencing domestic violence are at risk of HIV contraction and women with HIV or AIDS are at risk of violence.

In the words of Jaya Luintel, the Samajhdari programme director: "If you ask a [Nepali] woman what her dream is: you get an answer that she has never dreamt for herself, only for her father, her husband and her son. Looking at this reality, I designed Samajhdari as a radio and community dialogue program that empowers Nepali women to dream for their own future. Through this radio program we are helping Nepali women to speak out for themselves and share their unspoken, internal dilemmas with one another."

In June 2010, Equal Access Nepal received One World Media's "Special Award" for Samajhdari.

Equal Access is an international not-for-profit communication for social change organisation headquartered in San Francisco, California, United States, with country offices and large-scale programmes in Afghanistan, Nepal, Cambodia, Chad, Niger, and Yemen, and project activities in Lao PDR and Pakistan. Equal Access creates customised communications strategies and direct community engagement solutions that address challenges affecting people in the developing world, such as women's and girls' empowerment, youth life skills and livelihoods, global health, human rights, peacebuiding, and good governance.

Partner Text: 

The United Nations Trust Fund Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund), The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)

See video

Press release - "Equal Access' Samajhdari Radio Show Wins Prestigious UK One World Media Special Award" - forwarded from Elizabeth Alonso-Hallifax to The Communication Initiative on July 1 2010; One World Media website, Equal Access website, and Samajhdari page on the EAN website - all accessed on August 12 2010; and email from Jaya Luintel to The Communication Initiative on February 19 2011.