By Vikas Verma
HYDERABAD, India 3 November 2009 – UNICEF is joining hands with Telugu language TV Channels to focus on the issues concerning the girl child in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
UNICEF has instituted awards for Telugu language TV channels, to promote gender sensitive programming and encourage discourse on Girl Child issues like early marriage, female foeticide and infanticide, high infant and maternal mortality, low educational attainment, trafficking and child labour. The awards will be presented on 24 January 2010 as part of Girl Child Day celebrations in India.
With more time spent by audiences in front of the television, advertisers have found television’s emotive power an important tool for product promotions. However a host of issues faced by the girl child are yet to find resonance in the programmes of Telugu TV channels in Andhra Pradesh.
UNICEF engagement with TV Telugu Channels is aimed at bringing to the centre stage the key issues confronting the girl child in Andhra Pradesh. The engagement also aims to make the TV channels and professionals aware about the need to be sensitive to the gender content in their entertainment and news related programmes.
The awards to channels will be based on the analysis of a jury headed by Dr V.S.Rama Devi, former Governor of Karnataka. Other members of the Jury are former Station Director of All India Radio Dr. P. S. Gopala Krishna, broadcaster and writer Dr. C. Mrinalini, Professor of Law in NALSAR University Dr. M. Sridhar and media analyst Dr. Nagasuri Venugopal.
UNICEF has enlisted the services of the Center for Media Studies (CMS) to conduct the pre- event exercise of monitoring the content for next two months. CMS would analyse prime time programmes of nine news channels, seven entertainment channels and one dedicated channel on women issues.
Media consultation for TV channel programming heads and stakeholders
To acquaint the channels with the modalities of the initiative UNICEF organised a media consultation for TV channel programming heads and other stakeholders in Hyderabad on 3 November 2009.
Addressing the gathering, Mr. Michel Saint-Lot, Chief, Hyderabad Field Office, UNICEF, said television had tremendous potential for social change and capacity to influence normative behaviour.
Mr. Saint-Lot called for intensive social mobilisation for girl child education and women’s empowerment to bridge the imbalance between economic development and social justice.
Quoting statistics concerning adolescent girls he said, “That of the 115 million adolescent girls in India as per the census data of 2001, 47 per cent were married before they were 18 years of age, 22 per cent had not received education, 24 per cent had become child bearing, 36 per cent had not heard of HIV-AIDS, 55 per cent lived in homes without toilets and 56 per cent were anaemic.”
Former Governor of Karnataka and head of the jury Dr. V.S. Rama Devi presided over the consultation as Chief Guest.
Lauding UNICEF’s initiative to institute awards, Ms. Devi stressed the need to correct the negative image of the condition of women and girl child in India.
“Television can play a huge role in bringing about the required social change leading to image change,” Ms. Devi added.
Social activist and the campaigner for girl child Ms. Amala Akkineni said that planting of trees and educating the girl child had a positive impact on social transformation of the society and economic growth of the country.
She said that the media and communication channels should re-orient themselves on girl child issues for overall social well-being.
Dr. Bhaskar Rao, Chairman- Center for Media Studies (CMS) said that several surveys’ and studies had highlighted the growing apathy of the media towards gender issues.
“It is time that media went beyond just spot reports and crime reports and made in- depth analysis of the reasons foe gender disparities and growing social problems,” said Rao.