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Meena Communication Initiative for South Asia

Meena and her pet parrot, Mithu, are two central characters in this highly successful animation series which was created through a series of VIPP processes.

In UNICEF's Meena Communication Initiative (MCI) for the South Asian girl child, the creators understood the need to involve various sectors of the population to build regional ownership and acceptance. Listening to experiences and sharing ideas were key ways of teasing out the commonalities which have been reflected in the MCI multi-media packages. To maximize participation, the entire project was planned through a series of VIPP workshops in which participants from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives worked together to identify key problems of female children across the region, draft preliminary storylines, design characters, synthesize preliminary research findings, refine stories and develop production schedules. Workshops took place in the various participating countries with writers, artists, programmers, researchers, academics, and gender, health and education specialists.

These participatory workshops helped to build regional consensus on the characters and stories which addressed gender discrimination in education, health services, food and nutrition, as well as such issues as child labour, early marriage and dowry. Many VIPP methods were used to generate ideas and sensitively challenge creativity of the participants. Mini-drama, role plays, drawing exercises, energizers, buzz group and small group exercises and plenary discussions formed the crux of these group events. Drama, drawing exercises and role plays were found to be invaluable in generating ideas on difficult issues like psychosocial trauma related to natural disasters and civil conflicts. Diverse countries came together and were able to express their views in democratic, consultative processes through the use of various visualization techniques.

In the dissemination phase, VIPP methods were used and continue to be used to develop plans for implementation of Meena materials and strategies, as well as to plan and train field workers on the creative and effective uses of Meena to change the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of families and communities towards the girl child.

In the South Asia's hierarchical cultures, full participation of various groups of people was possible due to the use of VIPP methods and the outcomes of group events were focused and rich. It was also obvious that participants enjoyed expressing their ideas and they appreciated the learning that happened in group processes.

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